The Importance of Privacy in a Technological Workplace
Technology and the internet have made business processes such a breeze, saving organizations time and money and at the same time, increasing work productivity. From manually filing important documents and records to uploading them in cloud-based programs, technological management solutions have enabled businesses to work more effectively and efficiently.
Some of you may question, however: with technology and the internet, does that mean personal data is much easier to access? Most likely, yes. But that will only be a problem if not handled properly. So, be sure to keep your organization’s records safe and observe how personal details are being monitored.
As part of the screening process before hiring, applicants provide some background information. There are some laws, depending on your location, that restrict employers from asking for certain information such as financial and criminal history. In dealing with personal information, be sure to always use consent and disclosures.
Medical Information, Drug Tests, and Records
Some state laws also prohibit the dissemination of employees’ medical records and history. Employers may be required to disclose how these documents and results are stored and who has access to them. Confidentiality must also be exercised between the employee and the company.
Employers are generally not allowed to spread and disclose personal employee information to third parties without a legal basis or obligation. Most state laws allow employees to access their personal data with due notice.
Technology has specially made privacy among conversations, telephone calls, and chat applications trickier. Some laws or states indicate that both parties must give consent for recording data. Surveillance systems and cameras are also subject to legal requirements.
To avoid legal disputes and spreading of wrong information, preserving privacy in the office means letting employees and employers enforce procedures and policies related to privacy.
- Identifying information and data that must remain confidential. This depends on your area and local jurisdiction.
- Craft a policy that addresses and explicitly states confidentiality for employees. Include here information that will not be protected, such as the company email addresses. Review the policy regularly and update it when newer and complex privacy issues arise.
- Make sure employees are familiar with the policy through a training program. This will help them become aware of the importance of privacy and learn what types of information they can disclose. Employees may also sign agreements on confidentiality to ensure that they know the consequences for breaching it, including instances where they are no longer employed with the organization.
- Ensure the authenticity of third parties or external agencies before disclosing sensitive information, for example, in contract signings and agreement.
- Provide appropriate sanctions to employees who, even are aware of office policy, still spread false information and breach confidentiality.
Balancing Progress and Privacy
Technology is obviously beneficial for society. However, it should not be abused in the workplace. Remind employees of the intricacies and importance of confidentiality in between meetings and lead by example by showing them that you yourself exercise the right to privacy.