Coworking Confidential: Protect Your Privacy in Shared Offices

The arrival of EU GDPR in 2018 was a game-changer for businesses operating across Europe. Although the UK is no longer part of the European Union, its current data protection laws are almost identical. To protect their customers’ data and stay on the right side of the law, every business needs to take measures to protect the privacy of their clients and employees.

While controlling access to and storage of personal data is a crucial piece in the puzzle, there is an area that’s easy to overlook: eavesdropping.

What are the dangers when working in open offices or coworking spaces when it comes to confidentiality and data protection? Let’s dig deeper and find out how you can protect your business.

Cyber Defences

First, you need to make sure that only your employees have access to confidential digital information and keep it safe from cyberattacks. This begins with a robust data protection policy. Investing in legal support to get this policy right could be wise.

Under UK law, every business needs to use appropriate measures to keep personal data safe. This should include:

  • Strong passwords, changed regularly
  • Firewalls
  • Anti-virus software
  • Lockable filing cabinets
  • Prompt shredding of paper documents that are no longer needed

The UK government provides guidance and tools to help you check your current level of compliance. While it won’t tell you exactly what you must do, it will give you general assistance that can help you protect your privacy online and keep your customers’ data safe and secure.

Physical Measures

To protect your privacy, you’ll sometimes need to put a barrier between yourself and other people in the coworking space. There are some traditional and more innovative ways to accomplish this.

Screens and potted plants

Let’s start with an old-school approach - a physical barrier. Putting up a physical screen between yourself and the person beside you sends a clear message. Of course, they could still move their chair around to get a better look, but this would be pretty blatant.

Another option is a potted plant. But let’s face it–the plastic ones look terrible, and the real ones take a lot of work. So this is a suggestion only for the most dedicated horticulturalist desk jockey.

Privacy screens

Privacy screens are a cheap and easy way to keep prying eyes away from laptop and computer screens. They consist of a thin piece of polarised plastic. This works by reducing the viewing angle of your screen. You can see perfectly when you look at the screen straight on, but nosy parkers at the next desk will see nothing but haze.

On a separate but related note, your employees may have concerns about blue light from screens. Studies cited by the University of California, Davis found that 27-35% of people reported symptoms, including dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision after using digital devices. So you could also do your workers a favour by investing in privacy screens that reduce blue light exposure.

Cloaking tech

Every team needs to meet and review presentations together at some point. The trend for glass-walled meeting rooms in coworking spaces may make them feel bright and airy, but they do nothing to protect sensitive information from prying eyes.

A recent innovation that may soon come to a coworking space near you is cloaking technology. This product covers the LED or OLED display, preventing onlookers from viewing the information on the screen. At the same time, those in the room can see everything clearly. It acts like an advanced privacy filter for a laptop and is a great way to protect your privacy in any shared workspace.

All of these options are useful, but they fail in one crucial way. They provide no soundproofing. To ensure a confidential conversation stays confidential, you need a soundproof booth.

Soundproof Booths

Soundproof booths, also known as acoustic pods, office pods, and Zoom rooms, and a revolution for protecting privacy. They not only provide a quiet place to work, but they also allow you to carry on a confidential conversation in total privacy.

This means you can have a sensitive HR conversation or negotiation with a client face-to-face without anyone else hearing what you say. You could do the same on Zoom or over the phone. They are perfect for keeping private information private and preventing eavesdropping.

You’ll be able to confidently discuss expansion plays, layoffs, new products, and sensitive topics away from prying ears without leaving the coworking space. High-profile corporations such as Alibaba, Starbucks, and Boeing have already added them to their offices, recognising their ability to support privacy.

Don’t Neglect Training

We come to training last because it’s crucial for each measure you take to protect privacy. It’s no good having a data protection policy nobody knows about. You need to make sure everyone is familiar with it and understands their personal responsibilities.

This could include:

  • Regularly changing passwords
  • Following protocols regarding data collection, storage and retention
  • Knowing when to find a quiet place for a confidential conversation
  • Reporting any breaches to management

Your team must understand the connection between privacy protection and the law. When they see that their responsibilities are part of a bigger framework, they should take them more seriously.

Protect Privacy and Upgrade Your Coworking Space with Soundproof Booths

If you own or manage a coworking space, have you given enough thought to privacy? Upgrading your facility with office pods could give you the edge over your competitors. You’ll be able to appeal to businesses and startups that value having a place to go where they won’t be overheard without having to leave the office.

Soundbox Store is proud to offer a range of acoustic pods that we have been developing and refining over the last ten years. Crafted from the finest quality acoustic materials, they keep sound out and private conversations in. Their plug-and-play functionality means you can set them up literally anywhere you have a mains power socket.

Explore our product range online and call us on 020 4586 3800 for more information.