Remote Work

As Inga has noted, summertime is vacation time.  For many of us, it’s the time of year when we try to take a week or two and get away from it all.  Cool lakes, Muskoka chairs, quiet sunsets and melodious loons all beckon.  But again for many of us, it’s almost impossible to completely defeat the office tether.  Whether it’s the mobile device that you check your voice and electronic mail on, or the wireless laptop that you use to remotely log in to the office’s virtual private network, the office beckons too.


While these technologies have afforded us an incredible opportunity to spend some well-deserved time away from the office and still get work done, they do come with quite a few challenges of their own.  For example, ask yourself if your mobile device use is compliant with your office policies – the policies that we spent so much time working on, and customizing to protect your business.


Are your connections as secure as they need to be?  Is the transfer of information compliant with the privacy requirements under PIPEDA?  How about your corporate policy regarding the acceptable use of e-mail and the internet?  How about your business’ confidentiality rules?  Can your devices be remotely wiped of your contacts and your calendar appointments if they are lost or stolen?  Do the devices support encryption for the long term storage of data?    Is your device security based on both hardware and software solutions?  Does the signature file on your mobile phone contain the company’s mandated confidentiality notice?  Does your IT department know about the level of protection that your industry requires?  Do you use your devices on the dock in the same way that you use them in the office?  More importantly – does your staff? 


If you answered no to any of these, you may be opening yourself or your organization up to potential civil liability for loss, the degradation of your intellectual property, fines for the violation of federal privacy laws as well as untold exposure from data loss to your competitors or others who mean you harm – a less-unlikely-than-you-think scenario.


As remote workplaces become an increasing reality, so do the challenges that come alongside.  Constant vigilance, a well-informed IT department, good lawyers and the occasional audit are the hallmarks of a good organizational attitude towards remote work.  Isn’t it exciting to think that we are only a slight attitude shift and a waterproof laptop away from being able to make every sunny day a possible work-from-the-cottage-day?


On, and I should note that this article should in no way be construed as my own personal appeal to spend next summer toiling away from a canoe somewhere on Lake Joseph…


Scott R. Young