As the future of the workplace continues to evolve, many companies are opting for hybrid models that combine the benefits and flexibility of working from home with the team-building and creativity that shared office space provides. And as the pandemic rages on, the need for hybrid and remote work options will continue to be essential for your team’s health and safety.

But how does a hybrid workplace model impact the protection of privacy?

When employees work remotely, managing privacy and security risks becomes much more complex. From unsecured Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops to confidential files stored on personal devices, the challenge many employers now face is maintaining control over the security and privacy of their information in temporary, or permanent, remote and hybrid work environments.

Let’s take a look at some of the key things we recommend employers keep in mind when considering privacy and information management in the age of the hybrid workplace.

1.    Establish Consistent Policies for Remote and In-Office Employees

In the early days of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to scramble to find workarounds and solutions for remote work to protect employee health and safety. But now, almost two years into the pandemic, it’s vital that employers revisit any stop-gap measures they may have introduced out of necessity to ensure that they are compliant, prudent and consistent. Employers will need to consider potential privacy risks for all workplace scenarios, whether an employee is remote, in-office or a hybrid of both, to ensure policies are in place for each. Policies will need to be evaluated against privacy compliance and security while also being reasonable and efficient for employees to navigate.

2.    Hybrid Employees (and Managers) Will Need Additional Resources and Training

Managing a hybrid office is daunting, especially if the business has no prior experience doing so. Businesses pursuing a hybrid model will be best served by investing in additional training and resources for managers to help them identify and assess potential privacy risks. Without proper support and training, many managers will have gaps in their knowledge simply because hybrid work is still relatively new for all of us.

3.    Ensure Your Employee Monitoring Program is Compliant with Privacy Law

Many employers have introduced employee monitoring systems in the move to remote and hybrid work environments. Employee monitoring is permissible in Canada if the process follows Canadian privacy statutes. However, privacy laws place significant limitations on monitoring methods and the circumstances under which an employer can implement them. As privacy and data protection concerns gain increased visibility in hybrid workplaces, businesses that choose to engage in employee monitoring may be at risk. It is essential to ensure any software you are using is compatible and compliant with all applicable privacy laws in your province. Ultimately, there are many benefits to offering hybrid workplace options. Businesses that can do so while successfully managing their privacy and information risks will build the successful workplaces of the future.

Navigating privacy and information management is confusing at the best of times. Add a hybrid work environment on top of that, and it’s likely your business will need expert support to manage your privacy risks. The privacy and information management experts at Cenera have over 25 years of experience assessing privacy risks and creating flexible, workable policies and practices that ensure compliance and security of sensitive information.

Reach out to the team at Cenera today if your business needs support. 

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