This article takes a look at three different issues that don’t get much coverage in discussions for Work-From-Home (WFH) policies. Much of the conversation tends to focus on productivity and oversight issues. Here are three issues you should consider.
Once your employees are based off-site and WFH, or anywhere else for that matter, the potential for serious data security issues can arise. Whether at home or in a coffee shop, your employees will be accessing your data via limited or unsecure WiFi connections. Most likely your employee’s home Internet connections will have NO firewall or limited security through their ISP’s equipment. This may be the single most critical security vulnerability that you face with WFH. Resolving this will take a diligent combination of employee training and IT support to control remote tools and approve software applications to limit such risks. This is one area where the services of an IT specialist with deep knowledge of access control and wireless security issues is needed.
PBX (Private Branch Exchange Phone System) vs. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
Moving to a WFH environment may be the final push for businesses to adopt the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems. If you aren’t already aware, VoIP is a voice communication toolset that takes you away from traditional “telco” lines and moves voice over local office networks and the Internet. In short, your office network becomes the gateway for your voice communications over the Internet when you make a phone call.
What does this have to do with WFH? The traditional office phone system – the PBX – is a location-based, on-site system. It offers little flexibility once employees move off-site and becomes of significantly diminished value. VoIP offers many tools unavailable on a PBX that can improve collaboration and communication among employees and between employees and clients. In short, a PBX is a dinosaur from an early era and isolates voice communication from a modern network environment. VoIP offers numerous communication tools that a PBX just cannot provide. Also, VoIP can be a significant money-saver. It can lower per-minute costs and is less expensive to maintain and support. Employees can use “soft phones” from their PC/Notebook or use their smartphone as a handset.
Fair Labor Standards Act – FLSA
Don’t leave human resource questions out of the mix of issues raised by WFH. In the US, most employment is governed by the US Fair Labor Standards Act. This is the 1938 act that set the standard 40-hour workweek, Federal minimum wage, and requires overtime for certain classifications of employees. Similar, often stricter laws exist at the state level, and sometimes even municipal.
What matters here is that when an employee who is required to be paid overtime beyond 40 hours per week is working from home, you are responsible for determining that they are compensated properly if they cross the 40 threshold. Just because it is convenient for them to do a little extra work when it comes up does not absolve you from OT requirements. In this case, collaboration with Human Resources in developing policies that protect both you and your employee are essential.
The Bottom Line…
Decentralization of the traditional workplace will be a reality for sometime to come. Many business may never go back to the old model. As a business owner or manager, you need to ensure your employees can operate safely from home and minimize risks to your business. If you are concerned about the IT security risks you face, please give us a call at 949.474.9533 to learn how we can help.