2020 has caused us to re-evaluate almost every aspect of our daily lives, and some changes look likely to remain the norm. One such example is that of people who usually work in an office now working from home, with a recent Government report estimating that almost half of us have done so of late.
There is some confusion over whether we should all be dashing back to the office or stay working from home where possible. Last week we had the Prime Minister saying: "I think we should now say, well, 'Go back to work if you can.'" This week we have had the UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, saying that there is "absolutely no reason" to change the guidance on working from home, and home working was still a "perfectly good option" for many. But whether we take Coronavirus into account or not, the trend for working from home has increased over the years as technology has enabled us to work from places outside of the confines of the physical office.
Working from home has its plus points and its downsides – but one area some businesses are not addressing is that of GDPR and data compliance.
If you are asked to work from home then your company should be providing you with a computer to do so. This is not out of the goodness of their hearts – this will help to ensure that all company data is kept as secure as possible whilst you are accessing files and networks not within the physical building of your office.
Technology now allows us to work from pretty much anywhere, and if we can access the internet we can work collaboratively; we can share documents, update files, access company software, and more. Apart from bumping into Jane from accounts and Jim from HR, working from home can give us the same access as working from the office.
However, if the machine you are using is your own then your boss can’t dictate what is stored on it, who has access to it, or how secure it is.
A company owned machine should be fully encrypted meaning you, and only you, can access the information on it. Not your teenage children wanting to download a game; not your grandchildren wanting to stream Peppa Pig; not your other half wanting to shop online. With a secured laptop you won’t be able to inadvertently download software, meaning you won’t accidently allow a virus to infiltrate the office network. With a fully secured company owned computer you are keeping within GDPR guidelines and protecting both your own company’s data and that of all of your customers and suppliers – even if you are working from the kitchen table.
Should your company supply you with a laptop to work from home? If they want to keep the data that the business has safe and secure then yes, they should. And when you weigh up the cost of a new computer compared to both the fines for a data breach and the PR disaster that could occur should your customer's details be splashed all over the internet it seems a small price to pay.