Ways to protect your intellectual property from remote employees

woman working on a laptop

Employees working from home or remotely is a quickly growing trend in the United States. Over the last twelve years, remote work has grown an astounding 159%, increasing morale and lowering stress across the board. 

While this trend is excellent for employees and companies alike, employers are now facing the challenge of protecting their intellectual property. With less supervision and limited control over IP addresses as well as internet access, breaches can happen. Since leaking trade secrets and sensitive data can destroy a company, here’s how to ensure your intellectual property is protected. 

Compliance is Key

Enforcing compliance from a distance isn’t always easy, but there are two vital documents that you can fall back on to ensure your employees remain adherent. The first is the NDA or Non-Disclosure Agreement, which your remote workers should sign as part of their contract. 

The second is the Non-Compete contract. Having your employees sign both is one of the best steps to take in protecting your intellectual property rights. In the event that there is a breach, this keeps you fully protected under the law. 

Restricting Access

Not only should your company have a strict Need to Know policy for intellectual property, it should also practice restricting access to remote employees. While they do need the tools and software to do their jobs, you shouldn’t grant them access to anything more than that. Keep whatever they can access to the bare minimum. 

Utilize Tracking Software

While there needs to be a level of trust to allow any employee to work remotely, that doesn’t mean you need to stay in the dark about their activities. Most employers rely on tracking software to monitor their remote workers’ screens and progress, ensuring productivity.

Modern software also takes screenshots of an employee’s monitor in intervals, allowing you to go about your day and monitor progress later. You’ll need to speak with experienced legal experts, like these Los Angeles employment lawyers, before implementing any tracking software to ensure you’re doing so correctly. 

References and Background Checks

With several companies switching in-house positions to full-time work-from-home jobs, the need to call references and conduct background checks is greater than ever. You need to know everything you can about a candidate, especially without the ability to get a feel for their character in-person. 

Web conferencing can help, but it isn’t the same as meeting someone face to face. So, make sure you or your hiring department is contacting every reference and asking plenty of questions. As for the background check, your organization should conduct these for ever employee regardless of whether they work in the office or not. 

Engagement Matters

Once an employee is working remotely, don’t let communication die. Have them participate in meeting through Skype or WebEx, have weekly one-on-one meetings with them to discuss issues and progress, and provide accommodations for them to come visit the office’s social events. The more contact you keep, the better you can ensure they still align with your policies on intellectual property.