In an effort to put a lid on the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses throughout BC are allowing employees to temporarily work from home. While advances in technology can make this happen without a hitch, it creates a whole new set of liability risk. After all, people under your employ are now working outside of the controlled office environment. Today, we’re going to take a look at these risks along with tips to mitigating their impact and spread.
3 Risks Commercial Businesses in BC Need to Protect Against When Staff is Working from Home Amidst COVID-19
1. Cybersecurity More Vulnerable
The security blanket that protects corporate data typically does not extend when staff leaves the office space. They are on less secure WiFi and may not be using corporate hardware (desktop computers, etc.) as they instead leverage their own devices to manage daily workloads. This creates significant risk as cybercriminals will have greater success delivering malware and phishing schemes to individuals working from home or in a coffee shop.
How to your prevent this without assigning an IT person at their side? By mandating the following:
- Move (and backup) all online productivity tools to a secure cloud
- Require staff to work from a secure home WiFi network (vs coffee shop or public area WiFi) when conducting business
- Enforce the use of multifactor authentication (MFA) for users who need to sign into business applications from their own devices
- Conduct an online conference session to educate staff about phishing schemes and hacks to watch out for
- Secure more comprehensive commercial cyber insurance coverage
2. Encourage Staff to Secure Their Own additional coverage
Despite the goal to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 most staff will see the ability to work from home as a benefit given that it allows for more flexibility. As a business owner you can actually make this a tax benefit for them too. This can be accomplished by completing a T2200 and/or T4044 form (as appropriate) for the employee to deduct employment expenses from their income. When things return to relative normal and you’re happy with their “temporary” work from home situation, you may consider allowing an ongoing “flex day” where they can work from home once per week. This will allow the tax benefit to carry over from the COVID-19 mandate.
Great, but what does this have to do with mitigating your liability risk? With work-from-home employees gaining the ability to write off a greater number of expenses, they can add a portion of the cost of small home based business insurance to the tally. If they top up their homeowner’s policies with greater coverage they can add home office expenses. Any damaging incidences (cybercrime, electrical fire, etc.) that may happen while they are working (for you) at home may be covered through their own policies. If so, they will be less likely to file a claim against you as their employer.
3. Provide Staff With The Tools They Need
Even though their beefed up (as per above) homeowners insurance policies may cover damage that may occur to laptops, electronics, furnishings, or even their person while working at home, this may not be enough to stop frustrated staff from filing a claim against your business. This is especially the case if their workload strains their personal resources in any way. Reduce the risk of potential claims while providing valued employees with the tools they need to excel at home. Allow staff to take home company laptops, devices, portable cooling fans, whiteboards, and even the ergonomic chairs. You may need to run to Staples for additional supplies but it’s worth the investment in your human resources. Deliver both the comforts and efficiencies that they have access to at work, and then some. This will ensure greater productivity, staff satisfaction, and reduce the potential for claims.
If you have any questions about your own commercial insurance policies during this unique time, we encourage you to speak with a broker at Park Insurance today.