Recurring lockdowns and the ongoing coronavirus crisis have seen a significant increase in remote working; and many organisations are now planning their future strategies around an increased desire for remote working.
For most people remote working means home working, and in recent months we have all seen articles and guidance around managing information security risks while working at home. Robust plans around information security are being carefully crafted by most organisations to address professional life in the new normal. But one element of security appears to have been widely overlooked, and that is around the physical security of home workers.
Some organisations do face threats from aggrieved third parties from time to time – they could be customers, suppliers or possibly former colleagues. These threats are impossible to predict but usually manifest themselves in threatening correspondence or calls, and very occasionally unwanted attendance at offices in person. Thankfully these incidents are rare, but when they do occur they can be extremely worrying for those targeted, and the consequences can be very serious.
Towards the end of last year, it was widely reported that a man with a large knife entered a London law firm and launched a “violent, racist attack” that injured a staff member before the assailant was overwhelmed. Just last week there was also the alleged attempted murder of renowned plastic surgeon Graeme Perks at his family home.
Security arrangements at office locations very often serve as a deterrent. The reality is, however, that physical security controls at our offices are usually far more robust than at our homes.
There are of course limits to the steps any organisation can reasonably take to protect their staff from criminal behaviour off and on site. But every organisation should carry out a specific risk assessment, paying particular attention to the sensitivity and risks around the tasks that home workers are routinely carrying out.
Guidance around home security should be issued to all employees. Home addresses should not be provided to third parties and not appear on any documents in the public domain, and any staff at particular risk should use social media very carefully and regularly review their privacy settings on such platforms.
It is also important to know what legal action can be taken if the Police are unable to stop an offender quickly enough. Our experience is that obtaining an injunction through the civil courts in serious cases takes a fraction of the time it takes for the Police to investigate an allegation and for any criminal prosecution to be dealt with in the criminal courts.
We have an experienced team at DMH Stallard dealing with such issues. As an example, we recently obtained an injunction against an individual where harassment was involved within days of the harassment taking place.
If you need any guidance on how to approach your particular concerns, we would be happy to assist.