Now, more than ever, working from home is considered “the norm” for many. When you are at work in the office, those risks are mitigated by your employer – but what about those risks when working from home?
Here are our top five risks of working from home:
1. Physical Safety.
Most home office safety measures are common-sense. Be sure you have a dedicated, clutter-free work area free of paper piles, cords should be tucked away and not out for you to trip over. Electronics should be plugged into a surge protector. Desks should be sturdy, chairs shouldn’t have loose screws. Don’t forget to check your smoke detector, unplug any space heaters, and turn off the coffee pot. Again, it’s basic common-sense, but a good reminder for each of us.
2. Computer Safety.
While your employer may use encrypted messaging and firewalls, these may not be available on your secured home network. There are secure VPN connections available, but your home office computer is still at risk. Be sure your home network, whether wired or wireless, is secure. The network security password should have been updated from the default provided. Don’t open personal mail accounts on your business computer; this could potentially cross-contaminate any business files with harmful viruses, ransomware or malware. For more info on Cyber Risks, check out this article Gabe wrote for his customers.
3. Data Safety.
You should always ensure your data is backed up, to the cloud, an external drive, or your network drive. The importance of data backups is often not understood until a computer crashes, coffee gets spilled on it, or an outlet causes an electrical surge which damages your hard drive. By backing up your data, you will be able to pick up where you left off (for the most part) with a new computer. Don’t save files on your desktop, in my documents, or anywhere that isn’t automatically backed up. Google Drive is a good (and free) alternative to employer network backups.
4. Child Safety.
All kids want to play on mom or dad’s computer! But it is important that you discuss the boundaries of your workspace with children in the home. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure any office supplies such as scissors or sharp tape dispensers, letter openers, paperweights and such are out of reach. Surge protectors with an on-off switch can easily turn off power without having to fumble with cords. Examine your workspace from a child’s point-of-view, and see what trouble you could find. If you can find it, they can too!
5. Employee Safety. (That’s you!)
Be sure you are taking time & effort to manage your own well-being. Is your computer at the right height? Do you slouched over to type? Are your feet on the floor? Take a moment to ask yourself these questions. Also, take breaks! You’ll need to ensure you are taking both mental breaks & lunch breaks. Pro-Tip: Set an alarm on your phone, watch, Alexa or Google device. Here’s a great article from Headspace on the benefits of mindfulness, and self-care. Give your eyes a rest, and invest in some blue-light blocking glasses. And last, but certainly not least – stay hydrated! Drink your water! While the water-cooler gossip may not be as entertaining at home, the importance of staying hydrated is!
We all hope things can “get back to normal,” but for now, take these tips into consideration. While these five risks aren’t all-encompassing, we hope it helps you to identify some areas to improve your safety & security when working from home. If you have any questions about insurance risk, as it relates to working from home or otherwise, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! If you are having a question, chances are others are too.