In early 2020, the covid-19 pandemic led to a widespread closure of offices and workplaces worldwide. Many employees learned something unprecedented during this time – that it was possible for their work to be done remotely from home.
Of course, telecommuting is not an option for every job or every company. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 62% of workers with at least a bachelor’s degree say their work can be done entirely from home, yet only 20% worked from home before the pandemic.
During the pandemic, however, employers took advantage of opportunities to work from home to keep productivity up. Six months after the pandemic, 71% were still working from home.
After months of enjoying the benefits of remote work—such as a more flexible schedule, better work-life balance, and less time spent commuting—the Pew survey found that 54% did not want to return to the office full-time.
Is full-time remote the answer?
While some employees still want fully remote options, working from home isn’t always a perfect solution. As we’ve learned, video conferencing and instant messaging are no substitute for real face-to-face interaction. Some tasks can be difficult to perform remotely. And the same study found that 57% of employees who work from home all or most of the time say they feel less connected to their co-workers.
To balance these issues and maintain a positive workplace culture, many employers are adopting a new hybrid work model – one that combines working from home and the office. Below we explain the benefits of hybrid working, as well as some potential risks that you may want to consider as a business owner.
What is a hybrid work model?
A hybrid work model is one where employees split their time between working from home and working on-site at a company-owned location. How an employee’s schedule is structured will vary from company to company. Some companies choose a fixed schedule with remote work and days in the office. Others may allow the employee to work from home at their discretion, giving them the freedom and flexibility to set their own schedule.
What are the advantages of hybrid working?
As a business owner, the hybrid work model has its advantages:
- More productivity. For a long time, managers struggled with the idea of employees working from home because they assumed productivity would suffer. But several studies have found the opposite to be true. Free from the distractions of a traditional work environment, and given the flexibility to work how and when they want, telecommuters are often found to be more productive at home.
- Lower costs. In a hybrid work model, you no longer need a dedicated workspace for each employee. Instead, you can have flexible desk spaces that everyone can use when they are in the office. In the long term, this means you need less space (think lower rent or lease payments). In addition, there is money you save on things like office furniture, utility bills and office supplies.
- Higher employee satisfaction. With more and more of the workforce looking to work remotely, a hybrid work model can help you attract and retain employees. And since employees still come to work at least some of the time, you can also reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation that sometimes accompany full-time remote work.
What are the insurance risks with a hybrid work model?
In many ways, moving to a hybrid work model can seem like the best of both worlds for some business owners. But when it comes to your business insurance, it can also open up to double the risk. Here are some potential insurance risks for the hybrid workplace.
- Workplace injuries: You probably take steps to reduce the risk of workplace injuries at your physical office or facility. Whether it’s making sure walkways are clear, or setting up your workstations to be ergonomically friendly, most employers do their best to keep everyone safe. But when your employees work from home, their work environment is no longer in your control.
To reduce this risk, talk to your employees about the importance of working from home ergonomicsand encourage them to work from a dedicated space – not the sofa or the kitchen table.
- Cyber Security: Every year the number of data breaches increases. As an employer, you take measures to protect your network within the walls of your physical office. But what happens when your employees access sensitive data from a home or public network? If they are not careful, it can leave you vulnerable to a cyber attack.
To prevent hackers from accessing your data, talk to your employees about the importance of cyber security. Require an encrypted connection when accessing sensitive files remotely, and ensure your staff keep their software and operating systems up to date.
Want actions you can check off the list now? Read 6 quick tips to protect your company data.
- Property damage: If your employees bring company equipment back and forth between work and home, you should make sure the equipment is covered—according to your company insurance or the employee’s homeowner’s insurance. While many insurance companies are adapting their policies based on the growing popularity of telecommuting, all policies are different. And if your assets aren’t covered, you could be out of luck in the event of an accident.
What insurance coverage should I consider for a hybrid work model?
If you’re thinking about adapting your business model to accommodate hybrid workers, now’s a good time to check in with your local Erie insurance agent. Your agent can give you specific advice about the risks and coverages unique to your business. But here are some coverages you’ll want to ask about.
Is your business protected?
You’ve worked hard to build your business. At ERIE, we’re here to help you protect it. Contact us today to learn more about business insurance policies tailored to your unique needs.
1Cyber Suite is only available to customers with an ErieSecure Business® policy. Cyber Suite coverage and related services reinsured under a contract with Hartford Steam Boiler (Home Office: Hartford, Connecticut). © 2021 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (“HSB”). All rights reserved. This document is for informational purposes only and does not change or override any of the terms of the policy and recommendations. For specific conditions, see the coverage form. Coverage not available in New York.