When you’re at your workplace (or even working from home for that matter) for straight eight hours or more, it can be challenging to give attention and time to personal matters and errands. Even if you don’t want to, you may end up making personal calls and sending emails. It’s just not always avoidable. Also, the idea to utilize your free time at work for entertainment is very tempting and there may be instances when you give in to this temptation. At times, people make use of special offers such as Spectrum Number and others that allow them to surf the internet, stream their favorite shows and make calls on a reasonable budget. But even that may not be secure. Office laptops may be monitored and using privately subscribed services during work hours may be strictly prohibited in the office. So what to do?

You need to be well aware of the rules of your workplace and the risks associated with not following them. Here are 5 ways to protect your privacy at work. 

1. Read Your Company’s Privacy Policy 

Every company has a different privacy policy and if you haven’t read it, you’re making a big mistake. Firstly, go through the rules thoroughly and follow them to the best of your abilities. If you’re using your work laptop, anything and everything that you do on it can be monitored. Companies monitor employee activities to make sure confidential information is not being leaked or disclosed to third parties. It also plays a role to curb issues of sexual harassment at the workplace. So be well informed as to what the company monitors and how strict it is regarding the utilization of its resources for personal use. It’s best however to be professional and avoid personal surfing during office hours. 

2. Turn on 2FA 

It’s quite possible that when you open your personal email on your work laptop, your password can be leaked. This is why you should always use two-factor authentication on your account. So even if someone has access to your password, they wouldn’t be able to open your account. Also, it would be wise to spend some time with the people in the IT department as that would give you a fair idea as to what they can and cannot monitor (even if they don’t disclose it to you directly).  

3. Adopt a Clean-Desk Policy 

Many of us are in the habit of saving our work on the desktop, especially when we’re too occupied with work and don’t have the time to save data into different folders and drives. However, adopting a clean-desk policy would not only help you organize your data but would also protect it from the eyes of people passing by. At times when sensitive data is leaked, it can cause damage to the company and may result in your termination or suspension.  

4. Keep Strong Passwords 

Besides, two-factor authentication, strong passwords are your best defense when it comes to protecting your privacy at work. Never use the same password for your personal and office email. Although employee monitoring activities are done for professional reasons, the people doing the job may not always be ethical. They have access to your office email passwords and they may try the same ones for your personal accounts. Also, keep unique passwords and not ones that are easy to guess (like birthdays, cell numbers. etc). 

5. Use a VPN 

If people have access to a network, they may also be able to spy on a person’s online activity. This makes it easier for them to hack sensitive information which can cause serious damage to the company and yourself. To prevent such a situation, you can use a VPN (virtual private network). It allows you to encrypt your data, hide your IP address and your activity on the web. Using VPN during work hours is highly recommended and if you can convince your higher management to employ a network-wide VPN, it would be even better.  

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