NEWS | 5 ways to manage confidential documents when working from home

5 ways to manage confidential documents when working from home

April 08 2020 By Rob Fedder rob fedder, remote working, work from home

Working from home is not a new trend exclusive to millennials, it's a practice essential for the survival of most businesses during these extraordinary times. 

Just a quick glance at the internet reveals much inspiration and advice for the new work-from-home employee. There are articles about creating a dedicated workspace at home, following a normal routine as far as possible, protecting yourself against cyber threats and what tools to use to connect with the office and outside world.

However, few of these articles weigh in on how to manage confidential company documents while working from home, and the potential legal and non-compliance fallout as a result. Legislation such the Protection of Personal Information act (PoPI) 2013 applies regardless of where you work from.

Prioritising document security at home

If your company has transitioned to a paperless workplace you can probably access these systems as if you were at the office. But for those whose companies still work with physical documents, here are a few tips to help manage the company paper trail while working from home:

1. Have a clean desk policy

This is not only good for productivity, but will also make you more aware of how you handle confidential and company documentation while working from home. Make it a habit to file away all sensitive or confidential information at the end of your work day.

2. Have a system

Replicate your office filing system at home. You may not have all the filing products available in your home office, but at the very least file according to your company policy. For example, this could be filing by colour, alphabetically or numerically. This will make it quicker and easier to transfer and file the documents when you return to the office.

3. Categorise your filing

It's important to separate your documents into categories. Here are some suggestions:

  • File for daily use (documents that are used on a daily basis).
  • File for later use (also known as live filing where quick and easy access is required from time to time).
  • File for archiving or long term storage (these documents are required to be kept safely for a specified period according to compliance and legislative requirements). 
  • Store for destruction (all documents that contain sensitive or confidential information that need to be destroyed correctly).

4. Scan and save to the work server

If you have the option to save documents to your company server, consider downloading a mobile scanning app. This allows you to use your phone to scan and save documents according to the same guidelines you would use if you were using an office scanner. This way there is a record of the document and it will probably be backed up.

5. Destruction of documents

As tempting as it is to give documents to the kids to draw on, bin them or burn them in your braai outside, rather find an old shoe box or storage box to keep these documents together, especially if they contain any sensitive data. Label the box with your name, surname, company name and branch name, and keep the box safely stored until you return to the office where the documents can be securely destroyed.

Remember that confidentiality and data privacy obligations apply even if you are working from home, so make sure you handle company documentation the same way you would it as if you were working from your desk in the office.

About Rob Fedder

Rob is the Managing Director of Tidy Files and Cleardata, which are Metrofile Group companies. He has been involved in the paper and electronic document management industry since 2006 and is passionate about helping businesses navigate the complex document management landscape.

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