Working From Home? 5 Risks You Should Be Aware Of

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jul 23, 2020

Jul 23, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

So you've finally got the opportunity to work from home. You can already see the setup; you in your pajamas and fluffy slippers punching away at the keyboard. Coffee in hand, you think it will be bliss. Before that dream can kick off into reality, there are some things you should consider. If you're about to become a remote worker, take note of the following five risks.

Insurance Issues

When working for an employer, usually, any equipment or vehicles used in the scope of business is covered by the company insurance. It might not be the same if you're working from home. A standard policy may not be sufficient cover, and you should let your insurer know if you're working from your house. 

Should you need to claim and haven't informed the insurance company, your case might be rejected. Any company property should remain under the corporate umbrella. Consider your car, which is now parked in the driveway, is it covered? 

It's best to research what’s available to cover your home and vehicle while working remotely. BrokerLink Insurance explains the various types of coverage available and what would affect the premiums. Even if you're not driving, consider vandalism, theft, and even natural occurrences, such as hail, that can damage your automobile. 

Ergonomics

Usually, the desks and chairs provided by a company are ergonomically sound. If you're working from home, you might not have a proper office setup. In which case you're using desks and chairs that aren't good for your back. It's possible to set up a healthy workspace with a little bit of effort. When sitting, try to maintain a neutral spine. 

Make use of a desk, even if it's your dining room table. Make sure your knees, thighs, and feet fit comfortably underneath. If you have to work from a couch, ensure you have added support by placing a pillow behind your lower back. 

You can also place your laptop on a binder or tray to create a hard surface. Make sure you have enough light in the area you're using and proper ventilation. If possible, find a space where you won't be disturbed or distracted. Ensure your family understands that you have designated an area for work, and it should be used for only that purpose.

Cyber Security

When you're working at an office, the company has certain security measures to protect its data. If you're offsite, you don't have the same safety net. Even if your employer uses a VPN to extend the network's safety, it's still not 100% secure. Many home systems are already infected with malware or use compromised hardware. 

A vulnerable connection allows hackers to exploit the organization's VPN. Get your company to set up the correct protection for you so that your matrix is safe. From your end, you need to check that all your antivirus software is up to date, and your firewall is in place. Make sure that when you log in to any company related sites, you use strong passwords. 

When you're finished working for the day, terminate any work-related links. Finally, don't let your family members use your work devices. In this way, you have better control over any access to sensitive company data, limiting security breaches.

Loss of Productivity

Being in a home environment might prove difficult for seasoned office workers to adapt. There are many more distractions than in an office. Some temptations are hard to resist, such as Netflix, games, mid-day naps, or even chores that need to be done. Tasks that normally take a few minutes now tend to take longer. 

If projects aren't time-sensitive, then often they're left to drag on for a long time. A good way to address this issue is to use some online tools to assist with focus. There’s software available that will block all social media platforms or any other websites that could distract you. They can be set up on a time limit, so you know that you can't access anything else. 

Your performance while working from home is sure to be monitored and used in your next performance appraisal, so it's best to keep productivity levels high. If you're getting paid per project, then losing focus will affect your bottom line. Develop a work mindset and aim to be at the 'office' daily for a certain period, and focus your goal on being productive.

Communication Challenges

It's a lot easier to answer a question when everyone is in the same office. Remote workers have to rely on digital communication to solve problems. If everything is working, then this isn't an issue. However, not everyone is available all of the time if they're at different locations. 

Besides that, there are so many channels of communication that information may slip through the cracks. Having virtual meetings with your manager and other involved parties is an efficient way to resolve any queries. If possible, avoid emailing as it can take a while for someone to reply. 

Instead, suggest some online messaging tools to create teams and consolidate information in one place for everyone to access. If you have an urgent project and need a quick answer, take the initiative to call your superior on their cell phone when all else fails. Ultimately the company is expecting results no matter where it's staff members are situated.

In Summary

Working from home can be very rewarding and offers personnel a healthier work-life balance. However, there are risks that you should address to make sure there aren't any issues. Advise your insurer that you're working from home so that you can upgrade your cover if necessary. 

Setup a proper workspace and make it as ergonomic as possible to prevent back strain or injury. Ask your company IT department to help you set up security and virus software to uphold company data integrity. 

Combat productivity and communication challenges by using online tools to facilitate project management and teamwork. Many companies see the benefit of remote workers, and if the challenges can be overcome, it will remain an option for future employees.