How does the new hybrid working model impact your business insurance policy?

Mark Costello, CEO of hubb spoke to Business Leader about the impact hybrid working is having on your business’ insurance policy.

It’s now beyond question that hybrid working is, indisputably, here to stay.

Aside from any other considerations, the fact is hybridity is simply what workers want. According to one Accenture survey of over 9,000 employees, an enormous 83 per cent of respondents felt that hybrid working is the best approach.

And it’s worth taking these preferences seriously, since the events of the pandemic have left workers quite happy to resign if they feel unhappy –as demonstrated by Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, which suggests around 41 per cent of people are considering leaving their jobs in what some are calling “The Great Resignation”.

This doesn’t mean that employers should adopt hybrid working under duress, of course – it has several benefits worth embracing.

By allowing their employees to work from home for part of the week, employers will benefit from the increases in productivity with which home working has been associated, with one TalkTalk study finding better levels of productivity in 58 per cent of home working employees.

At the same time, mixing this practice with trips to the office allows for in-person opportunities for collaboration and human engagement which can provide a valuable boost to creative problem-solving and ideation. Clearly, hybrid working offers the best of both worlds.

However, this glimpse into the future of work comes with an important caveat: if hybrid working is going to be the norm, then employers need to understand the business insurance implications of this new working practice.

The bare minimum?

Many business owners – especially small business owners – will be aware that, in a legal sense, it’s possible to take a very minimalist approach to business insurance.

After all, the only compulsory policy required of all businesses is employers’ liability insurance (EL). This policy covers businesses in the event that employees claim to suffer injury or illness as a consequence of working for their company, dealing with any resultant legal and compensation costs.

There’s a strong motive for businesses to secure this policy, since you can face hefty fines by the Health and Safety Executive – to the tune of an eye-watering £2,500 per day – but this isn’t the only appeal of the policy.

Given that employers are considering hybrid working in a society more aware than ever of the dangers of spreading illnesses, it may well be comforting to know that they have policies in place that protect them against workers becoming unwell.

As such, businesses ready to embrace hybrid working should extend this frame of mind into the world of optional policies – insurance that isn’t legally necessary, but which now looks more appealing than ever in the context of hybrid working.

In particular, many businesses will want to look with fresh eyes on policies which they may have – understandably – overlooked, or procrastinated over, or previously considered an unnecessary option, especially when it comes to considerations like contents, equipment, and cyber liability.

Shining fresh light on optional policies

An obvious example, for office-based jobs that require employees to use IT equipment, is portable equipment insurance.

Given that most work-from-home eligible jobs fall under this category, employers who have previously kept their equipment on-site may want to reconsider the implications of employees permanently ferrying laptops between home and office, relying more frequently on company smartphones, or using specialised equipment depending on the role.

This is a prime example of a policy which was easy to overlook pre-pandemic, but which takes on a new urgency in a world of hybrid working.

At the same time, the nature of hybridity means it is equally important not to neglect contents cover, since the office will still have a substantial – though less dominant – role to play for hybrid workers.

Of course, employees taking their internet-connected devices home can have more implications than loss, damage, or theft. As a recent report from Deloitte has found, the cyber “threat landscape” has been expanded by increased business digitalisation – as such, employers now need to think more thoroughly about adopting cyber liability.

As with equipment insurance, this kind of policy isn’t a legal necessity – but it could be vital for employees who are now more at risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. When workers perform a portion of their online work at home, corporate IT departments are less able to maintain device security, monitor network traffic, or keep everything current and updated.

By the same token, businesses should work with insurance providers who are well-versed in tech-based coverage, ensuring that their package is appropriate for a new era of work.

For many, these issues are deemed as something to be addressed next week, next month, or next year. But the cementation of hybrid work means that next year has now arrived, and businesses looking to enjoy the considerable advantages of hybrid working need to ensure that those benefits aren’t undercut by avoidable losses arising from unexpected attributes of the new normal.

enewsletter