The COVID 19 pandemic has turned the workforce on its head, forcing employees from their brick and mortar offices and into new (in a sense) terrain: Their homes. All businesses deal with information that is deemed confidential, and many have echoed concerns regarding the information governance aspects of our now-seemingly universal work from home situation.
Here are some light-hearted but essential tips for businesses and their home-based staff who are remotely handling and protecting confidential information.
- Printing/Shredding: Just like in the office, think about the life cycle of where the information begins and ends. Don’t put confidential information in the recycle bin or trash can, or leave it laying all over your house for your kids to color on the back of and send to grandma.
- Clean Desk Policy: If your current workspace is some place shared and “public,” such as a dining room table, clean it up and secure any client materials before any lengthy breaks (like your daily 4-mile walk) and at the end of each workday.
- “Co-Workers”: You may find that your teenage kids have never been more incredibly bored in their lives. Shockingly, they may have run out of things to talk about with their friends. Spouses, too. Our new work situations are challenging, but if you are having a confidential client call, be thoughtful about your environment and who may be within earshot. Take the call off speaker, find a private place, and try to schedule it for a time where you can give it your undivided attention.
- SMART Tech: At the risk of leaning into a conspiracy theory, perhaps now is a good time to unplug Alexa & Siri…
- Video Conferencing from Home: There have been several news stories about security issues using Zoom and other conferencing solutions. First, always make sure you have installed the most up to date security patches on software solutions. For confidential calls, use a unique meeting ID per call, encourage the use of passwords to join, and never, ever share meeting links on social media. Also, consider using a virtual background to block out photo bombing children and pets.
- Posting on Social Media: Every time we see a friend post a picture on Facebook with a caption such as, “look at me, working from home!” we tend to look at their desk and surroundings. We’re naturally curious about their WFH setup and what they are working on. It’s amazing how easily you can read the words on the papers next to them with the right zoom. We’re not saying you can’t post, just make sure you self-edit your workspace first, and crop your computer screen or, even better, set it to “sleep.”
- Speaking of Computer Screens: Get in the habit of locking your keyboard when you step away from your desk. In addition to protecting clients from receiving emails from bored children, some of us have cats prone to claiming a keyboard as their bed.
Ultimately, this is a reminder that we are responsible for the protection and care of our clients’ and our business’ confidential information, regardless of where we are working – in our brick and mortar offices or a home office.
About the Authors: Danielle LoPiccolo and David Amidon
Danielle LoPiccolo is Burns & Levinson’s Director of Information Governance. She has spent over 25 years supporting and implementing technology and information management solutions in the legal industry.
David Amidon has almost 30 years of experience helping a wide array of clients, serving as both general counsel and transactional counsel to a broad and diverse group of entrepreneurs, start-up and emerging ventures, middle-market companies, private equity and venture capital funds, investment banking firms, private investors, and public companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.345.3578.