The importance of data privacy in a remote work environment

How we work has changed. Organisations that were solely office based now offer flexible and hybrid working models that allow their employees from both the office and home.

The importance of data privacy in a remote work environment

This provides a far better work/life balance and has proven to increase productivity and mental wellness.

However, despite their many benefits, remote and hybrid working models are increasingly exposing businesses to data privacy breaches. This is a concern as huge amounts of sensitive data are being leaked to cybersecurity attacks, putting people and the businesses they work for at risk. 

How can companies protect themselves and their employees in remote work environments? This article explores the importance of data privacy and remote working. 

What is data privacy in business?

Data privacy is the protection of personal information, including location, browsing history, contact information, and financial data of a person or organisation. It includes the correct storage, access, and retention of said information, as well as proper IT device management, to ensure data remains secure and is only accessed by authorised personnel.

All companies are responsible for making sure the data they gather is collected, processed, shared, archived, and deleted in accordance with the law. This includes businesses hiring remote employees or contractors.

How is remote working affecting data privacy?

With so many employees working from home, it can be challenging for businesses to maintain data privacy.

Many employees haven’t worried about data security issues before and, therefore, do not consider how a simple mistake on their part could result in a serious data breach. Whether they’re working from an unsecured home network, sharing sensitive data via personal channels, or failing to password protect documents, they are exposing your company to data breaches. 

A data breach undermines customer confidence in your business and can lead to costly GDPR fines. Therefore, it is vital you take action to protect your customers, clients, and employees now and in the future. 

Why is data privacy in business important?

Ensuring adequate data privacy measures are in place across your organisation is vital. Here’s why:

Avoids GDPR fines

Ensuring your organisation obeys data privacy laws is important and will help you avoid any penalties or fines resulting from data breaches. In the UK, there are data privacy laws that outline how employers should collect, store, and manage employee data. Violating any one of these laws can result in fines that are costly (both financially and reputably) to your company.

Builds employee trust

Demonstrating your commitment to maintaining data privacy and actively encouraging your employees to be involved in that process helps to establish employee trust. 

To achieve data privacy throughout your organisation and maintaining it for both office and home-based workers might require new contracts and processes to be created, but it will be worthwhile.

As Business Mondays highlight, “Demonstrating a commitment to combat wrongdoing, and actively empowering your employees to be instrumental in that process, helps foster an environment within which your team can thrive […] It is crucial that your employees are not only aware of policy in place to protect them, but see such policy being actioned.” 

If you are committed to handling data in a responsible, lawful way, you will provide your employees with a peace of mind that endears them to your company and improves their productivity and commitment in the long-term.

How to ensure data privacy for remote workers

Remote working can put data privacy at risk, which is why data protection practices are vital for remote workers. Now that you understand the importance of data privacy for your business, here’s how you to achieve it for remote workers:

Use encryption software

Encryption software is vital for protecting sensitive company data. Data encryption is where data is encoded so that it cannot be seen or shared by users without being granted access. It enhances communication between in-house and remote employees while ensuring data remains inaccessible to unauthorised personnel. 

Use a password manager 

Passwords are another vital way to protect data privacy. However, many people use the same or similar passwords over and again, putting private company information at risk of exposure. 

According to the National Cyber Security Centre, “Cyber breaches can cause huge financial and emotional heartache through theft or loss of data which we should all endeavour to prevent […] Making good password choices is the single biggest control consumers have over their own personal security posture.”

Using a secure password manager system is a great way to create and store business passwords. This guarantees the passwords employees use are secure and high-quality, reducing the risk of cyber-attacks and data leaks.

Final words

We hope this article has been informative and has provided you with guidance to make changes accordingly. Data privacy in a remote work environment is vital to establish employee satisfaction and loyalty as well as support the continued success of your organisation, now and in the future.

Gemma Williams
Gemma Williams

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