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What Are the Most Common Remote Working Risks?

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In our modern world, businesses are bigger, their influence is greater, and they’re beginning to connect with national and international customers. Even small-scale operations require some degree of travel to meet the needs of their clients and to stay competitive in the global market.

As you continue to grow, you’ve likely had to hire more independent contractors and freelancers or switch permanent in-house employees to remote worksites. While the swap was shaky at first, businesses saw an increase in productivity, loyalty, and money saved.

However, there are a few risks and consequences that may develop when switching over to a hybrid or remote workspace. Employers still need to establish work-from-home policies that improve workplace outcomes; productivity, security, and efficiency aren’t doled out freely.

With that said, the following remote working risks are easy to navigate if organizations and startups are prepared to equip their employees with what they need to succeed.

1. Employee/Freelancer Injury, Sickness, and Health Complications

Employees are still eligible for health insurance and workers’ compensation if they meet specific requirements. Freelancers and independent contractors are exempt from receiving coverage.

What Are Workers Entitled To?

Most US states require businesses with more than 10 employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employees are also entitled to health benefits, required leave, maternity and paternity leave, sickness and disability leave, and pensions.

If you want to reimburse expenses as a freelancer, you can use an expense reimbursement form to record and manage expenses. This form should include the employee’s name, the purpose of reimbursements, date of request, payment method (if applicable), and signature of the employee.

Some employers will offer additional benefits, like long-term/short-term disability insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, travel/commuting assistance, and gym benefits.

Health Insurance

Although employers aren’t required to give health insurance to independent contractors and freelancers, it’s in your best interest to do so if you can afford it. Not only will benefits attract quality hires, but freelancers who receive benefits are less likely to take extended leaves.

You’ll need a Medicare benefits provider that covers medical bills for employees and freelancers. Select a Medicare provider that also supports international remote workers.

Workers Compensation

If your employee gets sick, insured, or suffers from another health complication while working from home, worker’s compensation can cover medical bills, lost wages, and lawsuit costs. 

Workers’ comp typically covers telecommuters, meaning they can file a claim from home. They’ll have to prove that their injury was due to a workplace scenario. In the event that they become sick with COVID-19, they also have to prove that their spouse or children were previously ill.

2. Security Risks from Data Breaches and Cyber Attacks

While cybersecurity is a concern for any business that primarily uses the Internet to sell to their clients, remote work has led to an excessive amount of security issues.

Nearly 90% of leaders feel that employees aren’t secure when working from home, and they have a right to be worried.

Remote Work Security Risks for Employees

When employees work from home, the threat of data breaches and cyber attacks more than doubles. Here are 5 ways an organization’s remote workers may endanger the company:

  • Accessing Data Through Unsafe Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi often found at coffee shops, is unsecured, making it easy for malicious hackers to spy on your computer.
  • Using Personal Devices: Most remote workers will use their personal devices to access client or employer data, which may not have firewalls or antivirus software installed. Employees may hold on to confidential information that’s been stored in their devices during their employment or neglect to update their software frequently.
  • Ignoring Physical Security Practices: Even if your cybersecurity policy is top-notch, employees may speak too loudly on the phone or leave their device unprotected where others can see. A simple over-the-shoulder look could put your company at risk.
  • Sending Unencrypted Files: Unencrypted files are easy to use and open once a hacker bypasses your servers. Every file should be encrypted before being sent.
  • Using Weak Passwords: Most of your employees will input easy to crack passwords that are used across multiple web pages. Human error is easier to exploit than an advanced security solution, which is why they’ll attempt to guess a password first.

Remote Work Security Risks for Employers

Your remote workers may be unknowingly putting your company’s data at risk. Working from home could potentially cause identity theft, an impromptu shut down, or a damaged reputation.

  • Email Scams: Employers should never share private information over email. Most email platforms aren’t secure enough to prevent hackers from seeing embedded files. What’s more, frequent email use puts your employees at risk for phishing schemes, which trick an individual into providing privileged information or login credentials.
  • Weak Security Controls: Remote employees won’t receive the same amount of cybersecurity protection at home as they would in the office. Workers may forget to implement security measures when sending documents out of habit.
  • Remote-Working Infrastructure Cyber Attacks: While brute force and server-side attacks aren’t common in an office environment, they are at a home office. DDoS attacks could prevent remote workers from accessing services over the Internet.
  • Malicious Insiders: Sometimes, malicious insiders can pose a threat to a business. A dissatisfied employee may deactivate security monitoring software and steal company information. It’s essential to hire people you can trust.
meeting deadlines at work concept

Best Practices to Avoid Remote Security Risks

Creating a work-from-home policy is the most effective way to ensure your employees maintain security compliance. Be sure to list the tools and platforms they’re allowed to use and clearly define which positions are eligible for remote work, either part or full-time.

Outline which steps to follow at the first signs of account compromise, like changing their passwords, reporting the incident, etc. You should also include some best practices:

  • Use multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security.
  • Ask your employees to use password managers for work accounts.
  • Install a secured cloud-based server; 
  • Ask your employees to install a high-quality VPN on their computers.
  • Ask employees to install a firewall and antivirus software on their computers.
  • Deploy an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution that will prevent data leakage and next-gen malware. Plus, EDR helps your IT department respond to threats quickly.

Protecting you and your employees from security risks is a long and complicated process, but your company has a better chance of combating threats through proper policy and restrictions.

3. Miscellaneous Risks: Disconnected and Distracted Employees

The final remote work risk deals with employee motivation. Employees may become distracted easily when switching to remote work, and who could blame them? It’s difficult to get into work mode when you’re in a space you usually relax in. The solution? Goal setting.

Goal Setting

Goal setting can help your employees feel connected to their co-workers and employers. 

Goal setting software can allow employees to communicate with one another. Active communication improves the likelihood your employees will finish a project because others will be relying on them. Plus, it establishes a social connection through friendly competition. 

Improved Tech

Unfortunately, productivity won’t improve if your employees are working with obsolete tech. 

If you plan to turn your in-house team into a hybrid workforce, they need to have access to top resources. Depending on your industry, this could mean providing an upgraded tablet, phone, or laptop. You may need to offer subscriptions to advanced tools or telecommunication apps.

When you create an environment that encourages success through goal setting and improved technology, your workers will benefit from increased productivity and efficiency. 

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