Close to two thirds of employees in Europe are now able to work from home for all or part of the time. If you are one of these people, the picture will be a similar one. Between the hours of nine in the morning and six in the evening or so, you will be found in front of a computer or on the phone, in your home office or at the kitchen table, connected to your documents, the office and colleagues. Your company most likely know where you are and what you are doing. They will most likely have put in place the IT infrastructure and information management safeguards to enable and protect both you (the home-working employee) and the company's data. Measures include secure company network access, password-protected IT equipment and clear guidelines on what information can and cannot be removed from the office. All these measures will be down to the growing awareness that the organisation's information security perimeter should now extend beyond the workplace to include the homes of its employees.
However, there is a growing trend that is seeing many move towards working at home outside of standard, contracted office hours, and often outside of formally recognised and defined arrangements. Do you fall into this category? If so, you are one of the many 'invisible' home workers.
When you take unfinished work out of the office to do in the evenings or at weekends, you will do so with the very best of intentions. However, chances are you won't have secure company intranet access, signed agreements or approved company IT equipment at home - which could see you inadvertently 'hopping over' your company's information security fence by mailing work to your private email, for example, or copying files onto a portable device, or simply printing out work documents to take home.
So when 5pm on a Friday hits, and Britain's army of invisible home workers spring into action, what can you do to ensure you don't pose an information security risk to your employer?
When faced with the prospect of clocking in again from the comfort of home, think about what is appropriate to take with you from the office. Do you feel overwhelmed by your workload? Is that why you are taking work home? If yes, your workplace and colleagues should be helping you to address this and provide support, advice and training where needed.
Ask for clear company guidelines on what can and can't be taken away. Request that these are shared with everyone, not just those who are officially permitted to work from home.
Check if there is a difference between digital and paper documents. Some confidential materials may not be allowed to be removed at all, so make sure you know where the boundaries lie.
Ultimately, it's the responsibility of your employer to keep information safe, whilst still allowing it to flow freely. Senior members of staff should set the tone for what is acceptable and unacceptable and managers and colleagues should ensure no employee, particularly one frantically trying to keep on top of their workload, is ever 'invisible', no matter where they choose to do their work.