Working from home is a dream come true for many busy moms. Along with the benefits, however, comes a whole new set of security risks. Running a home and a business simultaneously requires a fresh approach to home, office, and family security. To help you keep your work and your loved ones safe, here’s a list of the most common security risks for work-from-home (WFH) moms and suggestions on how you can manage them.
There is a break-in every 18 seconds in America, and the majority of those happen in the middle of the work day. While most offices have state-of-the-art security systems, not every home does. Now that your home represents both your professional and personal life, it’s time to think about increasing your security level.
According to A Secure Life home security expert David DeMille, the presence of a security system continues to be a strong deterrent to burglars. He does caution, however, against posting false security signs without a system to back it up. “While simply posting a security sign on your property may be enough to encourage a burglar to move on, a sign won’t do any good if someone does decide to break in,” he explains. The best way to protect you—and your business—is to invest in a real system that can alert authorities, capture burglars on video, and let you know the moment a break-in happens.
Many security systems are customizable, making security features accessible on a limited budget. Depending on the nature of your home business, you may also be able to claim a portion of your security expenses as a tax deduction.
- Cyber attacks
Data breaches, malware, and viruses pose serious threats to your business. Just because your business may be small doesn’t mean it’s immune to a cyber attack. If you run a business from home, hackers may target you because they expect you to have minimal security in place.
There are some simple things you can do to protect your business from cyber threats.
- Regularly change passwords, and make sure passwords are strong and difficult to guess.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This will encrypt your network connection and hide your IP address, protecting your privacy and the privacy of your clients.
- Separate your business and personal accounts on email and social media. You may even want to use a designated computer for work that is never used for other purposes.
- Keep all operating systems and software Regular updates provide patches and other resolutions for security threats. Don’t ignore those pesky update reminders.
- Use antivirus software to regularly scan your devices for malware and other online threats.
- Physical dangers
Working from home comes with the luxury of being with your children throughout the day. However, during a conference call, a surprise client visit, or a hurried deadline, it’s easy to get distracted.
“There’s a common misconception that working from home means you can care for your kids while you work,” says Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs. “But it’s really not fair to your job or your children to try to do both simultaneously.”
Pulling double duty increases the potential for an accident. Workplace equipment such as shredders can pose a threat, as well as tangles of cords in the path of little ones. You also run the risk of leaving kids in a vulnerable situation if you get pulled away from them by a phone call or a ping that alerts you to a new email.
Some the best things you can do to avoid risks to your children include setting up a separate, safe work area, taking advantage of nap times, playdates, and other opportunities to work without the kids underfoot, and enlisting help when you need it. Many moms working from home employ part-time help to keep kids entertained and out of harm’s way. If the cost of help is prohibitive, look for a WFH co-op (or start one of your own) where moms take turns offering child care free of charge.
- Liability risks
A risk that WFH moms often overlook is the liability of meeting clients in your home or being sued by a dissatisfied customer. These risks vary depending on whether you work for yourself or work from home for another company. Either way, though, you could be found liable for medical expenses if a client is injured on your property.
The first thing to do is double-check your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you have liability coverage for injuries incurred on your property. Next, look into liability insurance for your business that provides coverage if someone is injured or suffers an economic loss as a result of visiting your property for business reasons.
If you are self-employed, you should also look into setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) for your business. This legal structure protects your personal assets in the event that someone sues your business.
Working from home affords extra flexibility and more time with loved ones. However, as with any venture, there are potential risks. Make your WFH adventure a success by staying knowledgeable about possible risks and how you can avoid them. But don’t keep it to yourself—become a WFH hero by passing along these insights to all of your friends who work from home.