DEREK SMITH: Balancing the risks of working at home

There is no doubt that remote working will continue to grow. With remote work becoming a significant business practice, it has quickly risen to the top of many executives’ agendas and become a vital component of talent attraction, employee retention and staff satisfaction. According to Deloitte & Touche’s Global Remote Work Survey, “over 80 percent of organisations have implemented some form of remote work policy”.

The term telework (remote work) refers to the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to perform work outside of the employer’s location. It is important to note that although telework can refer to mobile working from anywhere other than an office, it is most common to work from home. Working from home, also known as telework from home, is the focus of this article.

Assessment of the risk

In order to fully benefit from remote and hybrid work, and to minimise potential risks, companies must establish a clear understanding of their corporate risk tolerance and then determine which safeguards must be put in place to enable this while balancing risks. Working across functions and taking a broad view is essential when embedding a successful remote working model. A holistic approach to building a compliant and operational workforce strategy will require working with your leadership and co-ordinating across all stakeholders (tax, compliance, global mobility, talent, human resources, payroll, legal, data privacy and technology) to articulate and align priorities.

The following two steps can help you get started.

  • Assess your human capital risks. This assessment should be quantitative and not merely anecdotal. Analyse and identify compliance risks and downstream impacts (tax, payroll and rewards). In the end, an effort will be made to use the key findings to develop policies and processes that will help manage long-term risks.

  • Know employee jurisdictional locations. Keeping track of employee locations, what they do, and how much time they have been doing it for is imperative for any company. Persons working under the radar in new and different jurisdictions face significant tax, corporate responsibility and Immigration issues.

Maintain a long-term talent strategy

According to the article, Building a game changing talent strategy, which was published in the Harvard Business Review: “The best talent policies respond to changing conditions on the ground, and to cultural differences across the globe.” Potential strategic touch points include, but are not limited to, talent reviews and succession planning, networking and collaboration tools, and prioritising leadership behaviours that matter.


In short, remote work and new ways of working can greatly enhance a company’s focus on its staff, agility, resilience and sustainability. In parallel, leaders are beginning to recognise the importance of a balanced approach. To prevent a variety of significant risks for both employees and employers, certain controls should be implemented. Implementing strategic enablement strategies aligned with a company’s enterprise and business goals is an important aspect of making remote work successful.

• NB: About Derek Smith Jr

Derek Smith Jr. has been a governance, risk and compliance professional for more than 20 years. He has held positions at a TerraLex member law firm, a Wolfsburg Group member bank and a ‘big four’ accounting firm. Mr Smith is a certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS), and the compliance officer and money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) for CG Atlantic’s family of companies (member of Coralisle Group) for The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.

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