Balancing Productivity with Legal Compliance

William Wong



When we talk about productivity solutions, we can’t leave out a crucial consideration: legal compliance. While the modern world rushes us on ever-faster, seeking greater and greater levels of work and productivity on our devices, this must be balanced against productivity concerns—particularly in regulated industries like healthcare and finance.

What does it take to balance productivity with compliance? Organizations must consider specific requirements from regulatory agencies, as well as other factors like brand messaging consistency, communication protocols, and encryption.

Rules and Regulations

With more companies implementing workplace mobility solutions such as BYOD (bring your own device) and MDM (mobile device management), employers need to keep in mind that some industries are regulated and are required to follow specific guidelines in regard to data privacy. The healthcare industry, for example, is one of the most regulated industries in the world, and faces intense scrutiny over compliance to ensure privacy of patient information.

To give you an idea of what regulatory challenges the healthcare industry faces in regard to patient privacy, let’s look at HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements. HIPAA was enacted in 1996 to create standards for privacy and security of health information through electronic exchange. Here are some of the highlights:

  • HIPAA applies to all healthcare providers and their business associates that transmit health information in any form or media, which includes electronically as well as orally or on paper.
  • The regulation applies to any “individually identifiable health information” or demographic data that relates to the person’s physical or mental health, provision of healthcare, or payment for the provision of healthcare.
  • Disclosure of this protected health information is only allowed for national priority purposes, such as when required by law and in relation to public health activities.
  • A central feature of HIPAA’s privacy regulation is that when information must be disclosed for national priority purposes, organizations must make efforts to reveal only the amount of information that is minimally necessary.
As you can see, if you work in a regulated industry like healthcare, you must take special precautions in relation to sharing of patient data. This example from the healthcare industry shows the types of concerns that employers must address in advance when implementing productivity software and workplace mobility solutions, to ensure that sensitive patient data does not become compromised. Other industries have their own regulations, and even unregulated industries must take measures to ensure data security to protect personal privacy, particularly when work teams are using mobile devices.

Brand Message Consistency

Another part of legal compliance relates to ensuring that your marketing content and advertising copy show consistency in following any compliance rules that the government mandates for your industry. There are many different venues in which your brand messaging might appear, including your website, TV or print ads, or verbal communications through your employees via phone or in person. To meet marketing compliance rules, your company must create messaging consistency wherever your brand messages are used.

While specific rules differ by industry, regulations might prohibit your messaging to contain certain types of language, even if it seems appropriate or accurate for your brand to use it. Companies can be fined if the government determines that their brand messaging is not compliant in certain types of materials, or not consistently compliant across all communication channels. ;">

Communication Protocols and Data Encryption

When balancing productivity against compliance concerns, companies also must be aware of rules relating to digital message formats. These rules, called communications protocols, define various aspects of how data is exchanged, including authentication, signaling, and error detection. Since these protocols are embedded in hardware and software, it is important for your IT department to understand the specific communication protocols that govern digital message exchange in your productivity solutions.

Data encryption can also play an important role in legal compliance. A growing number of companies keep documents secure through encryption technology, which allows organizations—as well as authorized individual users—to encrypt sensitive documents with passkeys so that unauthorized parties can’t decipher them. Encryption can help provide confidentiality for sensitive data, as well as other key elements of security like authentication and integrity. Top office productivity platforms, such as WPS Office, offer an encryption feature for added document security, which can help users stay legally compliant as well as productive.

It isn’t easy to strike the right balance between productivity and legal compliance—but it’s important to prioritize doing so in every instance. Failing to take necessary measures to stay compliant to industry regulations relating to data exchange have led to many an organization’s demise, which is certainly the worst-case scenario when it comes to productivity. Attention to compliance, consistency, and communication protocols is a small price to pay when weighed against the alternative.