We talk a lot about the technology nuts and bolts that make telework and remote work possible. Being able to work outside a regular office environment, basically anywhere and at any time, is ubiquitous now and that is largely thanks to conference call services and technology. If you have a phone and even the most standard phone service, you can connect with coworkers and work remotely.
Security and privacy are popular topics when discussing telework, and ensuring that corporate data and devices are safe is a primary concern for most organizations. One topic that doesn’t come up very often, however, is actual worker safety. And with a growing number of employees using conference call services and technology to work remotely, physical safety becomes more important.
California is right at the top of the list when it comes to telework, and the state passed legislation in 1990 that formally established telecommuting as a public policy. That legislation opened a can of worms concerning safety and liability issues, however, which turned out to be very real concerns that were not being addressed.
And those issues still aren’t being addressed by most employers, despite the prevalence of the BYOD trend and the extreme rise in conference call services for remote workers. In fact, safety for teleworkers is a bit of a sticky issue, with OSHA announcing it would not conduct inspections of employees’ home offices in 2000. The agency also claimed it wouldn’t hold employers liable for hazards and accidents that might occur in home offices, but that hasn’t stopped teleworkers from pursuing workers’ compensation for injuries retained while working from home.
According to a recent article in Safety and Health magazine, nearly 40 percent of 273 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Employees in Maryland use the organization’s telework program to work remotely up to three days per week. An interesting twist on this is that the association places importance on home office safety and employees must accept a telework agreement that outlines safety procedures before being permitted to work remotely. Safety issues outlined include physical issues like ensuring workspaces are clear of clutter and cords, electrical outlets are being used properly and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
According to recent research from Statista, audio conferencing and conference call services remain a primary piece of the teleworking pie, and they are gaining in market share. In fact, IT service companies will earn approximately $4.3 million in audio conferencing services globally this year. With those numbers on the rise, taking a look at physical safety and security along with protection of corporate data and assets is a prudent measure in securing the wellbeing and success of remote workers and teleworkers.
Edited by Maurice Nagle