By: Leigh Meador, KWIG Client Services Director
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic coerced many companies to embrace “working from home,” remote working was gaining ground. Now, two years later, more and more employers rely on remote workers in some shape or form.
In fact, a survey by Owl Labs found that 92 percent of survey participants expect to work from home at least 1 day per week while 80 percent expect to work from home at least 3 days per week. Likewise, Forbes reported that remote work is here to stay and is projected to increase to make up 25 percent of professional jobs by the end of 2022.
We won’t get into the pros and cons of a remote workforce today. BUT, if your company is offering remote work opportunities and arrangements, there are some risks and liabilities to consider with your insurance agent. For instance, does an employee’s walk from their bedroom to their “home office” count as a commute? Is an employee eligible for worker’s comp if they develop carpal tunnel syndrome while typing on their laptop all day? What if an employee’s computer is damaged or stolen while working remotely?
How to mitigate the risks a remote workforce exposes
While an office environment provides employers with more control over employee conditions and activities, a remote workforce does just the opposite. Employers lose control and can be exposed to more risk if it is not mitigated properly.
- Consider each employee’s home working environment.
Are your employees’ at-home workspaces ergonomically-optimized? Ergonomics is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that people and things interact more efficiently and safely.” For example, working from the kitchen table or the couch may not be the most ergonomically-friendly. Are their desks at the right height in relation to their chairs and computer screens? What kind of chairs are they sitting in all day? Having an ergonomically-optimized workspace helps employees work more efficiently and safely by protecting their bodies from injury and/or recurring pain. Consider providing employees with the resources they need to set up an ergonomically optimized workspace and inspecting their workplaces to ensure they are free of clutter and other hazards that could cause an injury.
- Consider coverage for business equipment.
Employees likely took business equipment home or are using their own equipment to work from home. How is this business equipment covered? Employers and business owners, be sure that you have sufficient Business Contents Insurance for business equipment used at home. In the same vein, encourage remote workers to review their homeowner’s insurance policies to determine what is and is NOT covered. Oftentimes, homeowner’s policies include liability exclusions for property damage arising from business-related activities. This means the minute personal property is used for business purposes and destroyed or stolen, there are limits in how much a homeowners policy will pay to replace the property.
- Consider scheduling an employee’s home address as a covered property.
Coverage for personal liability when an employee is working from home is typically limited. Are your remote employees meeting with clients and partners in their homes? You should have an abundance of caution in these situations. A homeowner’s policy will usually not cover a visitor’s medical expenses if they get injured on the property–the homeowner will pay for that injury and those expenses. To mitigate this risk, consider scheduling the employee’s home address as a covered property under your business’s insurance policy.
- Consider increased cyber risk exposure.
If not managed proactively, remote work can increase your business’s cyber risk. Cyber security measures and cyber insurance are extremely important when it comes to remote work. If employees are working from home on company equipment, what cyber security measures do you have in place to protect the company and the client’s data? Do your laptops have encryption code? Have you established work-from-home procedures so that all employees know how to protect client data while at home? It’s imperative that your companies’ technology is up-to-date to not only inhibit a cyberattack, but to also secure cyber insurance coverage.
Are you shifting to a hybrid or remote workforce? Let’s work together.
Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group is here to help you assess the risk your business faces as you make the shift to a hybrid or remote workforce. Contact an expert at KWIG to review and discuss your insurance and risk management programs. Whether we’re protecting your business, your employees or your loved ones, we provide you with personalized solutions to the problems you don’t see coming.