Working from Home Safely

Is there the possibility that our home workers are putting their employers at risk of potential data breaches or fines by breaking GDPR regulations? A nationwide poll carried out for Go Shred has revealed that 66% of UK adults working at home have printed confidential work documents on their personal printer, from meeting agendas to commercial documents, payroll and CVs.

Other key findings from the study include the following:
  1. Average home worker prints 5 documents at home per week. This can include confidential employee information including payroll, addresses and medical information. 
  2. 24% haven’t disposed of printed documents yet as they plan to take them back to the office. 
  3. 24% used a home shredding machine but then disposed of the documents in their own waste bin. 
  4. 12% admit they have absolutely no knowledge of GDPR regulations. 

Currently in the UK, all companies that store or process personal information about 
UK and EU citizens must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018 which require them to have an effective, documented, auditable process in place for the collection, storage and destruction of personal information. 

With many
of us now working from home due to government restrictions, how many of us are potentially breaking confidentiality rules by printing documents at home? 

What are
we printing at home that could potentially risk a breach of GDPR rules? The top five items home workers admitted to printing at home are: 

  • Meeting notes/agendas (42%) 
  • Internal documents including procedure manuals (32%) 
  • Contracts and commercial documents (30%) 
  • Receipts/expense forms (27%) 
  • Industry related copy (e.g. press release/brochure copy/articles/student work to proof) (24%) 

 fifth (20%) of home workers that have printed at home also admit to printing confidential employee information including payroll, addresses, medical information and 13% have even printed CVs or application forms. Printing this type of information is a high-risk activity and any documentation which includes these details need to be handled and most importantly disposed of correctly. 

When asked whether they have disposed of any printed documents since working from home, nearly a quarter (24%) said 
haven’t disposed of them yet as they plan to take them back to the office and a further 24% say they used a home shredding machine but then disposed the documents in their own waste. This method of disposal is not recommended due to personal waste bins not providing enough security for confidential waste and therefore still leaving employers open to a data breach and potential fine. 

This indicates that there is definitely 
work to be done when it comes to highlighting the risks of printing documents at home. Even internal documents such as meeting notes and agendas can be risky, so extra precautions should be taken in order to dispose of these properly.