Every employer in Texas should be thinking about ways to protect trade secrets and take steps to prevent the misappropriation of trade secrets. Yet with increased remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased need for many employers in Texas and across the country to consider ways to protect classified information. Our Dallas employment law attorneys want to provide you with more information about why there is an increased need to protect trade secrets, as well as tips for keeping your business’s valuable proprietary information confidential.
Why is There an Increased Need to Protect Trade Secrets with More Remote Work?
As more employees work from home, your company’s trade secrets are likely at an increased risk. According to the Pew Research Center, before the pandemic, about 20% of full-time employees in the U.S. worked from home. Now, many more full-time employees work remotely than ever before. Even if workers are not intentionally engaging in behavior to put trade secrets at risk, some circumstances of remote work simply expose your company’s proprietary information to greater risk than that to which it otherwise would have been subjected in a traditional office setting.
Indeed, while employees are working remotely, they may be much more likely to use personal devices, such as a personal computer, for performing work-related tasks that may include reviewing documents or sending emails. When employees are engaged in these work-related behaviors, they also may be on a home network that is less secure than the network used at the office. In addition, an employee might use his or her personal email address for work-related correspondence without realizing it, or he or she might unintentionally allow others in the household to obtain access to confidential work materials—by printing those materials at home or by sharing a computer with other household members that is also used for work-related tasks. Videoconferencing can also pose data risks, with unwanted participants gaining access to remote work meetings.
Tips for Protecting Trade Secrets When Your Employees Work Remotely
If you have any employees who work remotely or even work from home on a part-time basis, it is important to consider steps your business can take to protect trade secrets. The following are some tips for protecting trade secrets when your employees work remotely:
- Update your business’s policies and workplace manual to address the use of personal devices while working remotely and any other similar issues that could place confidential materials and information at risk.
- Train employees in new remote work policies.
- Ensure all videoconferences, whether on Zoom or another platform, have passwords.
- Require employees to sign confidentiality agreements that are specifically designed with remote work in mind.
- Provide added security (either through hardware or software) for employees to utilize on their home networks.
- Limit access to company trade secrets only to those employees who need it.
Contact Our Dallas Employment Lawyers for Assistance
Do you have questions about protecting trade secrets when employees work from home? An experienced Texas employment law attorney can assist you. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC today for more information.