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The “new normal” may include your business having employees working remotely

Does you business have employees working remotely?

Remote Employee Working From Home | Huff Insurance | Pasadena MarylandAs we are all getting us to the new normal as we cope with the COVID-19 life, many businesses have gone to remote workers.   Due to the coronavirus, a lot of businesses sent employees to work remotely without having clearly written remote work practices.

This is not the best process for your business.   There is more susceptibility to cyber crimes when employees work remotely. And there are other employee/employer issues that can develop as the 9-5 workday disappears.

Some employers see a flexible work arrangement as an employee only benefit.  Most have recognized that giving employees flexibility and the ability to work outside the office or outside the traditional work hours has made employees more productive.

This productivity has shown to greatly benefit the business. But, it has led to a blurring of the lines of personal and work life and the expectation that we must be available 24-7.

There are different types of remote work arrangements:

  • As needed remote work- either when needed or an emergency situation such as a sick child, or weather or pandemic
  • A flexible work arrangements- someone who works part of the time on a regular basis
  • A remote worker- someone who works from home 100% of the time

To create a successful remote work program:

  1. Evaluate the needs of the position and determine if the employees physical presence is needed full time, part time or periodic meetings.
  2. Decide which remote work option might be the most viable work option
  3. Identity which employees have the knowledge and experience to be considered for a flex/remote work arrangement
  4. Look at the different communication and collaborative tools such as Zoom, Goto Meeting and Skype
  5. Develop a guide
  6. Choose a pilot program or a trial group
  7. Schedule a company wide meeting to discuss flex-work arrangements
  8. Train the staff how to use communication and collaborative tools
  9. Implement, monitor, and change as needed

What should be in your Remote Work Guide?

  • Description of the various work arrangements
  • Corporate policies and procedures for remote work
  • Company wide and department meeting times
  • Rules and guidelines for family during work hours, such an interruptions, noise, etc
  • Child-care policy
  • Home office setup requirements
  • Security requirements
  • Home computers maintenance guidelines

Considerations for the employees Home Office

Make sure that the employee has an area that can be designated as their work area. The work area should have a door that can be closed so that work may not be disrupted.

  • They need a desk large enough for the computers and monitor(s) and other equipment
  • A PC or laptop— (see security concerns)
  • High speed modem and good and reliable connectivity
  • Smart phone or VoIP handset or headset

Security Concerns with employees working remotely

  1. For employees that occasionally work from home, provide them with remote access from home computer to their desktop computer
  2. For employees who work from home a few days a week or all of the time, provide them with a laptop or a desktop to use from home
  3. Basic security measures should be implemented whether it is a supplied computer or the employee’s computer:
    • The user must have a strong password minimum of 8 letters, including special characters, upper and lower case
    • Must be configured to manually enter passwords to the organization’s systems/website
    • Client information is confidential. If there are other household members using the same computer, your employee must sign off the remote session or business applications whenever they leave their desk
    • Must have a secure, private internet connection
    • Operating systems updates and Microsoft and operating systems updates should be working properly and updated automatically
    • Firewalls and antivirus programs should be updated and maintained
    • If the business is providing the computer, the employee should not be allowed to download applications from other sources.  Games, mobile apps, coupon sites can contain virus and malware
    • Clear procedures should be written and followed for logging off and closing their computer when not in use
    • Train and educate employees on security issues
    • Periodically schedule a check on all remote devices

As we move into these new work environments we need to be concerned with the cyber liability concerns for our business and the effects on the employee/employer relationship.  The insurance coverages for cyber liability insurance and employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) along with good business management and security processes are what you need to protect your business.

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