10 Simple Ways To Protect Your Privacy At Work

When you spend eight or more hours at the office each day, it can be a challenge to get around to everything else you need to get done—making appointments, attending appointments, running errands, keeping up with friends and family, and so on. Odds are you’re going to be making personal calls and conducting personal business online while you’re at work. While some states provide privacy protection, the laws don’t always apply when you’re using company resources. And even if you’re using your own mobile device, you’re still using the company’s network. There are few easier ways to get fired than to do what seems like a harmless personal task, only to find out you’ve offended your boss. How can you protect your privacy?

1. Look up your company’s policy on privacy and the use of company resources for personal business. Follow it as best you can.

2. Check your own personnel files now and again. This can help you figure out what the company already knows about you.

3. If you have private papers at work, put them in a file which you label and keep confidential. This may not be applicable in all workplaces. But if there is a stamp labeled “confidential,” nothing’s stopping you from using it. Oftentimes that’s all it takes to keep someone from rifling through your papers.

4. Use strict privacy settings on Facebook and other social networks. This won’t stop anyone from seeing the data you send and receive on the company network, but it will still protect you should your boss go snooping online.

5. Become friends with the IT department. If you really want to know what your company monitors, the best way to find out is usually to become friends with the IT staff members. Don’t openly ask about it. Over time you’ll probably figure it out just by listening to them talk about how things work.

6. Conduct personal business on lunch break, not at the office. Consider stepping outside for that phone call, or going down the street to an internet café or another place with wifi to do your personal business online.

7. Check your work computer to see if there is software openly installed that can track your movements. You can disable it to conduct your business, though you’ll probably be asked about it later. You can always pretend you didn’t know what it was or thought it might be adware. Keep in mind though that your movements may still be trackable through networking software on the server end.

8. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when sending and receiving data.

9. Don’t talk about your personal life while you’re at work. This is one of the most commonly overlooked ways you can protect your privacy. Loss of privacy doesn’t even need to involve technology. It’s often our slips in what we say, how we dress, and how we behave, which tells our employers more about us than we’d like them to know.

10. Choose a workplace which has a relaxed attitude about personal correspondences and activities. There are some offices which absolutely do not tolerate personal business being conducted on the premises. Other offices don’t care either way. You’re far more likely to suffer privacy invasions at offices which disapprove of what you’re doing than offices which take it for granted that you’ll conduct private business at work.

The easiest way to protect your privacy at work is to leave your personal business out of the office, but that isn’t always possible or preferable. Do what you can to keep your business on the down low though, and you’ll be less likely to compromise your job.

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