Allowing employees to work from the comfort of their homes definitely, has its advantages especially for small business owners. The common perks being cutting down on expenses incurred in renting office spaces and promoting a workforce that is satisfied. However, there are some real liabilities that need to be taken into serious consideration before the decision to have employees that are home-based is passed. This is a common dilemma for a majority of managers today due to its far reaching effects. It begs the question of whether businesses are really ready for flexible working environments.
Challenges letting employees work from home
There are new challenges that may be faced by businesses that decide to let their employees adopt the practice of working from home. Unfortunately, some may fail to be covered by their insurance policy. Some of the major challenges include the ones outlined below:
Cover for property and equipment
Businesses that have proper insurance usually have their equipment and general property covered in the policy. However, the problem presents itself when an employee is working from home and this causes damage to their property or even home. It is highly unlikely that the businesses insurance policy of the company they work for will cover the losses. This is because such policies tend to be restricted to a specific place that has been identified for business. In addition, the insurance policy of the employee may only cover the loss partly or fail to cover it completely. If it is very necessary that employees work from home then all property and equipment should be fully protected from damage regardless of whether it is privately owned by the employee or it is a property of the business.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe working place regardless of whether an employee is working from the business premises or at home. If an employee is injured while working at home, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that he/she is covered by their workers’ compensation policy. Before employers allow employees to work from home, it is important that they ensure employees have been complying with the workplace health and safety policy for the business. The typical procedure involves employees completing a safety survey that is tailor-made for working from home and this can only be done after they first inspect their homes. The challenge is that it will be difficult to observe if employees are struggling with workloads or are too stressed. Remember, stress and poor mental health can result in psychological injuries that are liable to claim under the workers’ compensation. Such psychological or physical injuries suffered by employees while working from home can lead to legal action. The employer may face high costs in defense of the claim in addition to penalties and fines.
A customer may suffer an injury while having a business meeting with an employee at home. Public liability insurance should cover for such a scenario as it caters for injuries to people who are not employees of a business. However, employers should first check with their insurance broker to ensure that the public liability insurance they have can respond to employees who are working from home. The location of the home must satisfy the definition of geographical limitations or even the equivalent.
Driving vehicles to meetings
If an employee drives his/her own vehicle for business purposes while working at home, it is important that they check the private motor vehicle insurance policy they have. This is in a bid to ascertain if activities that are businesses related are covered. This is because if an employee causes some damage to the property of others with his/her vehicle while carrying out activities related to the business, the employer is legally liable. Employers who are strongly considering letting their employees work from home should have a talk with their insurance broker as to how their current policy can respond to the situation or if there is a need for an additional cover altogether.
Working from home can have adverse effects on the communication between employees and their employer as it fosters feelings of isolation. Communication is key in any business organization and can never be over emphasized.
Businesses that promote working from home experience some difficulty in upgrading the skills of their employees as well as maintaining staff development. This can harm the overall prosperity of the business because of lack of growth. A concept that is risky in the volatile business environment.
This is perhaps the most critical challenge that faces businesses that let their employees work from home, there is a high risk of possible decline of the work quality and skills of employees. This can lead to dissatisfaction on the side of the clients which can, in turn, reflect poorly on the business. Employees who are not happy tend to withdraw their business opportunities.
There is bound to be a decline in staff morale in businesses that allow their employees to work from home. This is because they will all be working from different locations and will rarely interact. Decreased staff morale might affect the overall performance of a business.
There are high initial costs that can be incurred by businesses when they decide to let employees work from home. This involves the provision of the required equipment and training. In addition, there is an adaptation to satisfy safety and health standards as well as the needs of employees who are disabled. These can significantly eat up into the finances of a business thus affecting its daily operations.
There is a high risk of information security when employees work from home because of lack of monitoring. Sensitive information about the company or even its ongoing projects could easily fall into the wrong hands and this may have undesirable consequences. This is because visitors to the employee’s home may have unauthorized access to his/her work.
Managing remote workers for businesses is a challenging affair that is yet to get a realistic and working solution. Working from home is a great responsibility on the side of the employer that requires overwhelming commitment so as to benefit from its several advantages. However, the most effective solution in the offing is the creation of a working scheme/ program that suitably monitors and consequently rewards employees under it.