The ability to telecommute was once seen as a perk, but as the U.S. tries to stop the spread of a novel coronavirus, COVID-19, it’s become a necessity that is creating new risks for companies.
Telecommuters may be less-exposed to COVID-19; however, cyber risks remain, especially for those businesses not possessing the technical expertise of the largest firms.
The newly mobilized workforce may not practice the same cyber hygiene at home as they would in an office. Not utilizing a virtual private network at home could allow bad actors to find an easier path to gain access to sensitive data.
According to a recent survey, only 20% of companies feel confident in their ability to respond to a ransomware attack.
Already, many companies are experiencing problems with Zoom, a popular video teleconferencing app.
The FBI reported a rise in “Zoombombing” complaints. That’s where disruptive outsiders find a meeting that allows attendees to share their screen by default, then blast the meeting with grotesque content, often pornographic.
Workers’ Comp Risks
Employers may also experience an uptick in workers’ compensation claims, experts say.
Working from home opens firms up to new exposures if, for example, a telecommuter gets injured by tripping on a cord or other object.
“We’re probably going to see more claims,” Jeffrey Smagacz, ergonomics practice leader for Marsh, told Business Insurance.
In other cases, people who have always gone into an office are now working at a kitchen table that is too high, or sitting on a soft couch in an awkward posture all day, Smagacz said.
In California, employers may see an uptick in mental comp claims, since mental stress is hardship for which compensation can be obtained.
Much of the due diligence will be on employers, as regulation is lax on telecommuting, Eric Conn told Business Insurance. Conn is the chair of the workplace safety practice group at a boutique law firm focused on labor and employment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has “repeatedly” said that it would not investigate the safety of home offices, Conn said.
With the coronavirus spreading and telecommuting becoming a new normal, companies need to develop policies to help reduce risk.
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