Workers’ Compensation Webcast: Managing Telecommuting Risks
With new technology making it easier for employees to work remotely, the telecommuting landscape has grown, and the number of employees working remotely more than doubled in the last decade.
And this upward trend is expected to continue. “More and more jobs are springing up that can be handled remotely,” noted Dennis Tierney, Marsh’s national director of Workers’ Compensation claims, during a webcast sponsored by Marsh’s Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence (COE).
The panelists discussed the benefits for both telecommuting employees as well as their employers, including reduced commuting costs and better work-life balance for employees and a larger recruitment pool and higher retention rates for employers. And as Julie Bolton, vice president casualty risk engineering at Zurich Service Corporation, there are financial gains for employers as well, with businesses saving an average of $11,000 annually for every employee who works from home 50% of the time.
However, as the panelists discussed, there are also challenges, including lack of oversight over employees’ work spaces, lack of clear delineation between working and non-working hours, and an increased potential for fraudulent claims. And these underline the need for organizations to have a clear telecommuting policy. Sara Warch, senior director of environmental health and safety at UnitedHealth Group, outlined some of the requirements included in the telecommuting policy and which the company’s 68,000 telecommuters need to abide by. “Not every employee is eligible to telecommute,” she stressed.
The panelists discussed specific pre-loss strategies that companies can employ to decrease the risk of workers’ compensation claims, including providing ergonomic furniture or making it available at a discount. They also underlined the importance of communication between remote employees and their managers and outlined specific workers’ compensation claims among telecommuters.