Risks of teleworking


Teleworking has many positive aspects associated with it, such as work-life balance, flexibility and organising work itself, but there are also risks that must be understood to prevent possible problems that may arise. These affect both the company and the teleworker, and we are mentioning them below:


Ensuring information security is the biggest challenge of remote working. The teleworker can work from anywhere, which makes it very difficult to secure his or her activity. The types of risks that can arise are:

  • Contamination of the corporate network by a security breach on the employee's computer (or vice versa).
  • Viruses or malwares that disrupt the normal operation of the computing device.
  • Ramsonware: a type of program that restricts access to certain parts or files of the operating system.
  • Phising: mass attack received by e-mail or SMS.
  • Unauthorised access to devices.
  • Man in the middle: intercepting communication between 2 or more interlocutors.
  • Data leakage or loss due to not having a backup copy.
  • When teleworking, it is likely that part of the company's information is stored on the home computer (unless we have a corporate computer or work in the cloud). These are some of the situations to consider:
    • Power outages: In some companies there are systems so that, in the event of a power outage, there is time to save the files you are handling and turn off the computers, but almost no home has anything like this. It is better to get into the habit of saving often.
    • Losing some of the work: Those working on remote desktops, using the company's own servers, don't have to do anything special. On the other hand, if part of the data is on your computer, it is a good idea to make a backup copy (daily or weekly) on an external hard drive. Always with the company's authorisation.

Protecting workers' privacy

There are companies that put in place means of monitoring to ensure that employees are complying with their working hours. These may unlawfully invade the teleworker's right to privacy and private life and should be proportionate and supervised by trade unions.

Musculoskeletal problems

Companies must comply with legal regulations concerning the height of desks and chairs, the amount of space each worker should have and even the brightness of the screens. At home, everyone is responsible for taking the necessary measures to avoid discomfort or injury. For its part, the keyboard should be inclinable and independent of the screen, so that the worker adopts a comfortable posture for arms and hands. Finally, it is advisable to use a footrest if they do not rest well on the floor.

Eyesight can also suffer if the eye does not switch occasionally to look away from the screen and, above all, if it is staring at the screen for long hours at a time. In an office there are more distractions and breaks than at home, and eyestrain is less likely to occur. The computer screen should be of sufficient quality, with a stable, glare-free image and the possibility of adjusting contrast or brightness for better visibility.

Psychological risk

There is a risk in teleworking that teleworkers' working hours may be extended or that they may not enjoy sufficient breaks as established by the regulations. Joseba Rico, psychologist and deputy director of AMAFE (Madrid Association of Friends and Relatives of People with Schizophrenia), warns of the risks that this form of professional work may present: “The environment may not be the most suitable for carrying out their activities. There is also the possibility of an excessive sedentary lifestyle, conflicts within the family system increasing, unrestricted working hours that take up the whole week, or people feeling isolated due to the lack of social contact. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety”.

Unless the right conditions are kept in place, teleworking over a long period of time increases the likelihood of both physical and mental health problems.

Moreover, working in the solitude of your own home can be hard for some people and the teleworker may feel isolated. To prevent this, it is advisable to hold videoconference meetings with other colleagues to discuss work-related issues.

Teamwork and cohesion

Continuing from the previous point, it is also important to point out that the team as a whole may be affected at different levels. The company may find it difficult to promote teamwork and keep staff cohesive. This can affect the performance and productivity of everyone, both those who are teleworking and those who are office-based. There is a risk of isolating, even unintentionally, the person working remotely.