John Greenwood

Is your organisations in a ‘defendable position’?

By John Greenwood, Head of Technology & Payments

With homeworking becoming a daily reality for many workers who had traditionally been based from the office, the parameters by which businesses need to be managed and protected has changed.

From early on in the pandemic, most large organisations have made it possible for their staff to work from home, only visiting the office when necessary. Although this new flexible way of working has had many benefits, it has also led to a far wider variety of data security and personal health risks across the distributed workforce.

A recent BBC article highlighted the main cybersecurity issues, although none of which come as a big surprise. The most interesting facts and statistics were:

  • One in three workers are now based exclusively at home
  • One in five workers has had no cybersecurity training at all
  • Two out of three workers who print work documents at home do not shred them after use
  • Almost 3 out of 5 IT decision-makers believe that remote workers will expose their firm to risk of a data breach

In addition to this, many organisations have successfully moved their workforces into the home, after adapting or redesigning their business processes and corporate systems to enable productive working, are up against a potential legislative ticking time bomb in relation to remote workplace safety.

Where there’s blame…

The UK claims industry has not had an easy time of it recently. With only a few exceptions, the door is now firmly shut for PPI claims and planned changes to the whiplash claims process will further curtail revenue opportunities.

What is next for the claims sector? Will it be class actions against companies by groups of employees who have been forced to work in unsuitable home environments?

While the home environment has, before 2020, been the homeowner’s domain, it is now the workplace. Any accidental damage caused by trailing cables, poorly placed computers, unsuitable seating might now fall on the employer to address. Then add to that the potential mental damage caused by having to balance work and family commitments within a confined space. The claims industry could have a field day!

What should your business be doing about it?

It is essential your business acts now and puts your company in a defendable position.

The failure of organisations to fully document a ‘risk assessment’ against not being able to meet your organisations obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, may not be an easy position to defend.

Both these pieces of legislation make very clear what an organisation’s responsibilities are for them to comply with the Act and keep both data and people safe.

Recording decision making actions, particularly at Board level, that are reasonable, proportionate and timely will help create the defendable position that insurers will look for when defending a potential claim.

Do not believe for one minute that the claims industry are not preparing themselves for this and do not think that your organisation is immune. Ensuring that your organisational risk documentation is complete and that words and actions are aligned to what could be considered a reasonable timeline, will be essential components of a defendable position.

Help your team to work with you

In short, homeworking is here to stay. Businesses have shifted and employees have become accustomed to the ‘new norm’. However, it’s not plain sailing yet as mistakes are being made and so far, most organisations are getting away with them. Don’t be the organisation in the first batch of ‘class actions’ because of lack of timely decision making and appropriate, proportionate and timely actions.

By working with your team to provide a safe and productive homeworking environment, with protected systems and structured support, your business can be a home-based success. Your team can grow and thrive, knowing what to do if problems occur and feeling supported in their work.

If you’re unsure how to assess the risks posed by homeworking and how to equip your business to deal with them, get in touch. We can advise you on what areas need to be considered and how to mitigate risk. We can also provide tips on how to work with your staff to maximise their health, happiness and productivity.

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