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Working remotely carries benefits but not without risks

Posted On: Jul. 13, 2015 12:00 AM CST

Working remotely carries benefits but not without risks

The benefits associated with employees working remotely carry with them challenges for employers, according to a new report from the Risk & Insurance Management Society, the organization said in a statement Monday.

In the new report, Risk Management & Remote Policies, RIMS' board directors examine the advantages and challenges of remote work as well as the role risk professionals should play in developing their organizations' remote work policies.

There are advantages to allowing employees flexibility. “Ultimately, flexible work arrangements are morale boosters that can be directly linked to improvements in an employee's quality of life, shortening their commuting time and saving them money,” said Carolyn Snow, director of risk management for Humana Inc. “That improved work-life balance has proved to be extremely valuable to increasing productivity.”

Privacy and confidentiality become issues, however.

“Potential loss of data is a top concern to consider when developing a remote work policy,” said Leslie Lamb, director of global risk management at San Jose, California-based Cisco Systems, Inc. “Although it is safest to issue technology to employees, it is often not the most cost-effective. For this, and many other reasons, the organization's IT staff should be involved in the policy development process.”

Success often depends on the employer-employee relationship.

“It takes a high-level of trust for a work-from-home arrangement to succeed,” said Lori Seidenberg, Denver-based senior vice president for insurance/risk management at Alden Torch Financial L.L.C. “Whether the employee is underworking or overworking, the organization must help their remote workers focus on their goals and objectives, set a consistent pace and acknowledge work ethic.”