COVID-19 – “Work from Home” Emergency Employment Plans – 10 Things to Think About


The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing employers to consider alternative workplace plans, and one common plan involves employees working from home.  If you’re considering a “work from home” plan, here are ten things to think about:

  1. Do you have appropriate confidentiality agreements for those employees who will be working from home?
  2. Have you given direction to your employees about using personal or third-party email services to transmit your confidential or trade secret information? (As a reminder, we strongly discourage you from permitting employees to use personal or third-party email services to perform work for your company.)
  3. Will your employees use personal devices to work from home (i.e., computers, scanners, printers, USB drives, etc.)? If so, how will you protect your information?  How will you get it back?
  4. If you will permit employees to use their personal devices, how will you ensure that those devices are equipped with necessary anti-viral and other security software? (Just yesterday we cautioned our clients about cybercriminals and bad actors sending phishing emails with links which appear to contain information about the COVID-19 virus, but in reality, they’re just trying to steal your valuable information - resources-alerts-Beware-of-Phishing-Emails-Claiming-to-Have-Updates-or-Remedy-Information-about-the-Coronavirus.html)
  5. Are your employees permitted to use third-parties storage and file transfer services, such as DropBox, Google Drive, etc?  If so, how will you keep track of your information? Will you have access to those accounts?  How will you get your information back? (Again, this is almost always a bad idea and we suggest that you do not permit the use of personal storage and file transfer accounts when employees are performing work for your company.)
  6. Will your employees have access to reliably secure WiFi access when working remotely?  How will you determine whether the WiFi access is secure?
  7. Is your IT infrastructure able to accommodate a mass influx of remote users at one time?  If not, how will employees perform their work (i.e., will employees end up working ‘off-server’ even if you told them not to)?
  8. Will employees be permitted to take paper files home?  If so, what record will you make of the files removed to ensure that the paper files are returned to you at the end of the emergency?
  9. If there is an IT disruption while employees are working remotely, what steps have you taken to maintain account security (i.e., employees cannot share usernames and passwords with one another)?
  10. If your offices will be unoccupied for a period of time, what steps will you take to ensure the physical security of your building, including any trade secret or confidential information stored there?

If you have questions or need advice as you develop and implement emergency ‘work from home’ plans, please contact a Butzel Long labor and employment attorney for assistance.

Brett A. Rendeiro

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