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Emerging business risks of remote working

Emerging business risks of remote working 1

By Ben Rose, Chief Underwriting Officer at Superscript

Since lockdown began, many businesses have had to take their operations online to stay afloat. Making this transition is new ground for some, with many smaller businesses having never needed to incorporate a digital presence. The sudden shift in the way we operate happened over night and as we start to ease out of lockdown, remote working may become the new normal. Businesses therefore need to adapt and educate. Ensuring that they have the processes in place to enable working from home no matter their industry or size.

Transitioning online

Any business looking to take its services online must make sure it has the right processes in place and conforms to the correct regulatory requirements. A crucial place to start is to have the correct insurance in place. For the self-employed – personal trainers, nutritionists and fitness instructors for example – this is especially important. Many will have never operated remotely, meaning they may have never used online tools such as video, social media or ecommerce platforms. These all come with their own element of risk, such as being a potential entry point for cyber attackers.

For the traditional office workforce, many will have experienced ad-hoc remote working and may feel better equipped to adapt to this new age of working. However, many large office based organisations have their own in-house IT team that deals with day to day queries. This will no longer be available. Access to appropriate working conditions and equipment may also be in short supply. Again, it is therefore crucial that the right policies are taken out to ensure both the individual employee and the wider company are protected against any emerging risk.

So what are the risks associated with remote working and how can we better protect ourselves?

Many of us are downloading numerous applications and online tools to keep ourselves connected to one another, so it’s no surprise that we are seeing a rise in cyber attacks across industries. According to the World Economic Forum, hacking and phishing attacks are likely to become the new norm for many companies, even continuing post pandemic. So, it’s important for any business to be protected against an online attack.

Ben Rose

Ben Rose

Cyber security policies are designed to protect business liability for a data breach involving sensitive customer information, such as credit card numbers, passwords and personally identifiable information (PII). Many businesses already have this kind of cover in place, however not all insurance players extend this cover for remote working so it is important that organisations check their policy wording as soon as possible.

Remote working also likely means unsecure WiFi networks, personal devices being used for work and confidential meetings taking place over video applications. These are all entry points for hackers and fraudsters so business owners must take responsibility to educate and protect all employees on best practice.There are many ways an organisation can protect itself and its employees – password management, multi-factor authentication and supplying work devices for example.

Remote working cover

In addition to cyber policies, organsitions must also consider cover for other areas of the business that may face risk. Not all insurance players extend policies to cover remote working, so it’s important to check the wording of your policies. Digital Risks for example provides flexible cover solutions, meaning businesses can change and alter cover as circumstances change.

Covers to consider:

  • Content and equipment cover: This cover is essential and protects office contents and equipment including computers, laptops, mobiles, cameras and tablets. In some policies, compensation is awarded for accidental physical or malicious damage, as well as fire, theft and flood. Remote working heightens the risk, especially equipment theft and potential damage. A remote workforce can be unpredictable and does not have all the security measures in place say an office would have, so it’s crucially important that this cover is taken out.

Some insurers have adapted this specific policy to better support businesses. For instance doubling the duration of unoccupied office cover in case of any possible theft or damage for equipment currently left behind at fixed work premises.

  • Employers liability: This cover is a legal requirement for any business that has employees (not including the self-employed unless stated in a contract) and covers legal costs should an employee make a claim against the business. Especially for remote working, this cover is critical as claims may arise for reasons including posture issues from uncomfortable seating and mental health issues caused by stress – something that is at an all time high right now.

The future of remote working

There is no doubt that COVID-19 will change the way we work forever. And some of the world’s largest and most influential businesses have already stated they will embrace this new working trend – Twitter says all staff can work from home forever and Facebook expects half of employees to work remotely over the next few years.

Small businesses will likely follow and it’s therefore crucial that they have the right processes and insurance cover in place to ensure they comply with regulatory changes. This means educating employees and taking out the right cover so if the worst does occur, businesses are fully protected.

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