New levels of connectivity have inspired a massive increase in the numbers of professionals who work from home or from other “remote” locations. Flexible working means growing numbers of startups and freelancers, but also more work from home contracts for consultancies and professional firms.

However, this is not always done with the right level of understanding of legal and business obligations. Just because you are not in a formal office environment, doesn’t mean you can ignore legislation or codes of practice.

So, what are the risks of working remotely?

Health & Safety

Legislation covering health and safety is not simply about warehouses and factories. If you work from home or from any other location, you will still need to be aware of the rules governing such things as manual handling, working from a good quality ergonomic computer chair and limiting screen time on technology.

Work-related stress; trips, falls and hazards; and using electrical equipment which is not fit for purpose or well maintained are still an issue.

Agencies and firms employing remote workers need to provide up-to-date training and information on Health & Safety and carry out regular audits of working environments.

Data protection for remote working

Working remotely actually increases your need for vigilance when it comes to managing data. You need to focus on this to protect your professional services firm, consultancy or other kinds of business.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation goes live in May, bringing with it sweeping new mandates for all businesses that hold data (information) on EU citizens. The main thrust of the new legislation is to create far higher levels of security and control for personal data.

If you are working on multiple devices in different locations, you could be highly vulnerable to non-compliance, leading to stringent fines. Particularly if you are a business offering peer-to-peer advice and services, therefore holding personal data for everyday use.

Have you got sufficient systems and measures in place to meet the demands of the GDPR?

Insurance matters for remote working

Another vital business consideration that requires special attention for anyone providing consultancy and professional services from home, or some other non-office location, is having adequate insurance.

For example, don’t assume that your equipment and data stored in your home office are covered by your standard building and contents cover.

Also, if you are providing consultation and professional services, you need well-tailored policies designed to mitigate the risks when something goes wrong.

With the best will in the world, no matter how good you are in your job, there are times when errors are made, or a client finds your advice below expectations. It’s not uncommon for professionals to find themselves accused of costing their clients money with advice that was ill-conceived, incorrect or misguided.

What happens to someone working from home in this situation?

This is when your Professional Indemnity Insurance would prove vital. It could be the difference between business survival and going under.

Professional indemnity insurance covers you against accusations of error, negligence, infringement or breaching confidentiality. If you are forced to make a claim, you can get vital help in covering legal costs, and for compensation or damages payments.

Keep the pyjamas

Being aware of remote working risks and pitfalls can bring great peace of mind. You can now go back to having the luxury of flexible office days and the joy of working in your PJs if you want to!