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We originally wrote on this subject in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, a large percentage of the workforce was working from home. Many companies adapted to the environment of lockdowns, restrictions, and health concerns by providing remote access to essential systems. As the situation unfolded, it became evident that job requirements could be met through connectivity. Furthermore, employees working from home became accustomed to and even preferred, the convenience of not having to commute to work.

With the subsidence of COVID, there were companies that expected employees to return to work at the office. However, there was no small level of resistance from those who reasoned that the new frontier of remote employment is a workable model. Some employers stood their ground, while others developed a hybrid approach in which personnel are required to only periodically report to the workplace. Many employers have further given permission to employees to work at home during times of approved medical leave.

According to a Forbes Advisor article entitled “Remote Work Statistics and Trends in 2024,” as of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model.[1] Such arrangements, without the oversight and control of physical attendance, can provide opportunities for fraud. The investigators of ResultQuest have been brought on to address three particular types.

1. Time Fraud – Time paid for work on company projects is actually spent on personal business, errands, or even vacation. Significant time fraud is often hallmarked by lower productivity, missed deadlines, or untimely responses to calls and messages. Misappropriated hours are often proven through targeted scrutiny.

2. Fraudulent Medical Claims – An employee is working from home on medical leave or files a claim under a Workers’ Compensation policy due to a fictitious illness or injury. When warranted, an employer may opt to observe the public movements of the employee. An effective investigative strategy can disprove the extent or existence of injuries, thereby saving the cost of premium increases. On occasion, though, it also has provided evidence of the validity of claims, thereby maintaining the bond of trust.

3. Theft of Trade Secrets – Remote access to systems and files leads to theft of company data. Sensitive proprietary information could be attractive and marketable to rival entities. A disgruntled worker might use such information to form a competing company or seek employment with a competitor. Technical safeguards often succeed in detecting and preventing such theft. However, safety measures can and do fail. When they do, a comprehensive investigation might provide the evidence needed to pursue legal remedies.

Any of these examples of fraud can significantly impact a company’s profits. If you have reason to believe that remote employees are abusing your trust, you can rely on the professionals of ResultQuest to help you develop a plan to identify, document, and respond to the problem. Call us at 713-781-9040 for a complimentary initial consultation.