Shift to homeworking poses new challenges for businesses

When the UK entered lockdown in March 2020, thousands of workers across the country had to quickly make the shift to working from home. Data from YouGov[i] shows that by May as many as 38% of workers were working exclusively at home, while a further 8% were doing so some of the time. In comparison, pre-crisis, just 7% of workers were working from home exclusively with 20% doing so some of the time.

We take a closer look at the shift towards homeworking, and as a result the new insurance implications and risks faced by businesses.

Homeworking set to continue post-pandemic

While lockdown necessitated a swift shift to homeworking for many businesses, as restrictions ease it seems a full return to the workplace is far from guaranteed. Many employees are reluctant to resume working in the office full-time, having enjoyed the flexibility and work-life balance benefits homeworking can afford. In addition, some businesses have realised that the majority of their employees are just as effective from home, so are considering reducing their physical office space in a bid to cut costs against a challenging economic backdrop.

Research from the CIPD suggests the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis once the crisis is over will increase to 37%[ii], with 44% of employers planning to take additional measures to support home working. Many companies, including Google and Facebook, have already said staff can continue working from home until the end of the year, while Twitter says staff can work from home ‘forever’ if they wish.

How does homeworking affect risk?

The shift towards homeworking, both in the short and long term, is changing the risk landscape for businesses – exacerbating some risks and mitigating others. Some of the things businesses need to think about, especially if they are considering remote working in the long term, include;

  • Cyber risk – Since the shift to remote working, cyber threats have been a growing concern for businesses. Many employees are using their own devices, the use of VPNs has sky-rocketed and research from DSA Connect shows that 8% of people have increased access to confidential data[iii] while working from home. All these factors increase companies’ vulnerability to cyber-attacks and criminals are taking advantage with an array of new threats. Research from Barracuda Networks shows that almost half of organisations fell victim to a cyber security incident during the initial weeks of homeworking[iv]. To combat this, firms must ensure they have adequate cyber protection in place.
  • Employers’ Liability – Regardless of where employees are based, employers still have a responsibility towards them. Businesses need to think about the new ways their employees are working and if these create new risks that need covering. Things to consider include whether employees’ workstations are set up correctly, if electronic devices have been safety tested and whether their home workspace is appropriate with sufficient space, natural light and ventilation.
  • Buildings and contents cover – Many employees have had to take equipment home to enable them to do their jobs, and employers need to ensure all work-related kit is adequately insured. Fewer people working in the office regularly could also have implications for businesses’ buildings and contents insurance, especially if it means the space is left unoccupied for periods of time.

All these considerations mean that in the coming months it’s likely there’ll be greater demand for flexible policies which are specifically tailored to businesses’ working from home needs.

At NIG, we offer a number of products and propositions which could be beneficial to businesses navigating the transition to long-term home working, including our Business from Home policy and Risk Assist.

Business from Home

Our highly-rated Business from Home policy offers cover for a range of trades and professions. Standard cover includes Business Contents, Public and Products Liability, Loss of Income, Goods in Transit and Money. Plus, businesses are able to tailor the policy to their individual needs with extras including Employers’ Liability, Refrigerated Stock and Legal Expenses. There’s also the option to insure hair and beauty treatments.

Additional benefits include;

  • Introductory no claims discount available for new businesses
  • No claims discount available at renewal
  • Free 24-hour helpline for emergency repairs such as burst pipes or blocked drains causing flooding
  • Emergency security assistance e.g replacement locks and a 24/7 glass replacement service
  • Unlimited access to helplines for legal advice, stress counselling, family issues and bereavement.

Plus, as part of our continuous improvement approach to product development, we’ve been listening to feedback from brokers and we will be removing some quotation referrals as well as increasing policy limits on Business Interruption, Goods in Transit and Household Contents Sums in early August.

Find out more about Business from Home on our website or speak to your usual NIG contact

As businesses manage the new risks that come with remote working, our Risk Assist portal can offer valuable support and guidance. Features include the regularly updated Covid-19 Hub, access to a round-the-clock virtual HR department and the Ask the Expert service, which enables businesses to ask a panel of professionals their HR and health and safety questions via email and receive a response within hours.

Watch our animation and speak to your usual NIG contact to find out more.