Transitioning to Work At Home

March 24, 2020

Transitioning Office Workforce to Telecommuters 

Changes to what is considered ‘normal’ have been sharp and swift.  The results of these changes are not yet fully known, but some outcomes can be predicted and prevented when adequately prepared for.  To make an impact, risk managers should be aware of the potential areas of new or increased risk.

 

Cyber Risks

  • Increase in breach potential due to a significant increase in employees using remote desktop software.
  • Increase in expenditures to broaden access to VPN or other security software.
  • Increase in reliance on employee decisions and practices to prevent breaches.
  • Increase in information theft, ransomware, and resulting loss of systems use.
  • Increase in income loss due to business interruption and damage to equipment.
  • Increase in employee stress causing errors in protecting data, assets, and funds.

 

Workers’ Compensation / Employee Safety

  • Increase in risk of injury due to working in an unsupervised environment, using new or different equipment, and in an environment that may expose more hazards (e.g., trip / fall over power cords, repetitive motion).
  • Increase in risk of mental stress claims (jurisdiction dependent) due to anxiety and social isolation.

 

Safety and Security Guidelines 

Working from home can alleviate some risks while introducing others. It will be critical to identify these risks and create a strategy for managing them to promote the safety and security of your company and employees.

 

IT

  • Determine guidelines and infrastructure needs to ensure data security, particularly for employees new to working remotely.
  • Determine how employees should access, share, and store files and emails securely while working remotely.
  • Determine if additional VPN user licenses or additional security protocols are required (Multi-factor authentication and limited administrative access).
  • Determine what equipment may be needed for temporary telecommuting (e.g., relocating an office computer to an employees’ homes or using a personally owned computer).
  • Provide instruction on connecting to home WiFi and how to password-protect home network.
  • Emphasize education and training regarding privacy, phishing and security.
  • Consider setting up an IT helpdesk call-in number if one is not already in place.
  • Manage access for lay-offs and furloughs to limit unauthorized access.
  • Ensure cyber resiliency plans and backup practices are maintained.
  • Establish standards for communications such as Teams,Yammer,WhatsApp, etc.

 

Human Resources

  • Ensure that all management is aware that employee safety and workers’ compensation still applies to telecommuters.
  • Ensure work hour and availability expectations are communicated to management and non-management.
  • Ensure employees ‘speak up’ for any safety concerns, regardless of where the employee may be working.
  • Establish communication guidelines or processes to increase engagement and prevent social isolation.

 

General Department Leadership

  • Ensure equipment accessories like headsets for heavy phone users are available or will be made available based on request or need.
  • Communicate with employees by phone frequently to maintain engagement.

 

Maximizing Computer Workstation Comfort

Correct sitting posture diagram

 

Work Area and Lighting

  • Choose an area suitable for your needs, ideally with a desk and office chair if available.
  • Ensure there is adequate clearance for your knees and legs under the work surface.
  • Avoid resting your arms and wrists on the work surface.
  • Keep power cords and other trip hazards tidy and away from walking paths.
  • Position your monitor so that it does not face direct sunlight or other sources of bright light such as windows with no shades.
  • Adjust window shades or add a task light to create adequate and comfortable lighting.

 

Chair and Posture

  • Use an adjustable chair with lumbar back support.
  • Avoid sitting on very soft couches, as they do not support the body evenly.
  • Stand, stretch, or walk every hour to maintain blood flow and ease tension.

 

Monitor

  • Place the monitor directly in front of you about an arm’s length away.
  • Position your monitor so that the top third of the monitor is level with your eyes.
  • Position dual monitors directly in front of you with the outermost edges tilted toward you when using each monitor equally.

 

Keyboard and Mouse

  • If your desk height is too high, consider a height adjustable keyboard tray.
  • Ensure the mouse is next to your keyboard.
  • Ensure the keyboard and mouse cord length are adequate and free of tangles.
  • Position the keyboard and mouse near the edge of the table.
  • Avoid planting your wrists during keyboard and mouse use.
  • Use a small rolled up towel as a palm support when typing.
  • Use an external keyboard and mouse when using a laptop for prolonged periods.

 

Reminder: Stay Engaged! 

Talk to your manager and your co-workers by phone.  Social distancing can have an impact on mental health, so we all need to remember that staying – and keeping others – engaged may require different steps or techniques than we are used to.

 

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Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.