by Tal Moise
Allowing employees to work from home can be a boon for employers trying to increase productivity and keep talented employees from leaving for more flexible jobs. But this flexibility can present an increased risk of fraud, theft and legal action if you keep personal information about employees or customers on your computer network.
Here's how to make sure your teleworkers can be trusted with at-home work:
1. Run criminal background checks on new hires, as they all are potential future teleworkers, even if they don't work from home now.
2. Open your eyes to the risks. You'd never allow an unknown person to walk around your primary offices, yet the adults who live with your teleworking employees have access to their computers. Lay out personal-use guidelines for home workers.
3. Secure laptop computers just as carefully as you do desktops. Even an honest, committed employee can have a laptop stolen and lose intellectual property or customer data. One survey said 10 percent of all laptops are stolen within 12 months of purchase.
Security experts suggest that people never leave laptops unattended, and that they carry them in backpacks or tote bags, rather than telltale laptop bags. Remind workers to back up data often, use complex passwords and change them regularly.
4. Conduct ongoing screenings of remote employees. Most often, it's an employee who is in some other kind of trouble—gambling, overspending, unexpected expenses, etc.—who is tempted to tap into the private data of customers or employees on the network.
If you use home-based contract workers, don't assume that the agency has properly screened the worker. Arrange for those screenings yourself.
Tal Moise is CEO of Verified Person, aand identity verification service in New York. Contact him by calling Amy Dean at (773) 262-4264.
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