Here, Michael Stokes from Harrison Clarke Rickerbys offers advice on managing data in a 'work from home' world.

Technology is helping so many people to work from home, with teams relying on video calls, messaging apps and other online platforms. Whatever app or platform you use, technology is linking us up, but could also be amassing data; how can you limit the risks that poses? Discussions that once took place at desks or in meeting rooms are now being recorded on video calls or being written in emails or instant messages. The content of these conversations can be highly confidential, from managing employees working from home to disciplinary procedures and preparing for redundancies.

Although the informality of some of these platforms can make them feel private, they often won’t be. For instance, if the data is personal but relates to the business, it can be requested by employees under data protection law under a Subject Access Request (SAR) which covers all forms of recorded communications such as emails, videos and instant messages. If an employee makes an employment tribunal claim, this information may have to be provided as part of the disclosure process.

Do make sure staff understand that messages and video calls can be disclosable, so they should behave appropriately. You may simply prefer to hold some conversations on the phone instead. Decide what you need to record and retain, for record-keeping or to comply with your obligations as an employer – board meeting minutes, for instance, are obviously important, but not every conversation with every team will be. Consider consolidating decision-making records into a single point of reference. Once you are clear you have documented everything which should be retained, you can identify excessive information.