Put A Lid On It

If your employees work outside the office, beware: Your competitors are watching.

Wander into any public space, and you're sure to see people taking care of business. Whether it's waiting for a flight, eating lunch or standing in line for a latte, employees are working on the run. It's a common sight in today's fast-paced business world, no matter where you are.

But are employees and CEOs alike aware of the dangers of divulging private company information in public spaces, especially in a burgeoning wireless culture that lets us work from anywhere with increasing ease? While technology makes employees more efficient, it also creates new ways for them-whether it's via a cell phone or over a laptop with print in screaming 20-point type-to unintentionally divulge sales figures, the details of a difficult client meeting or even product specs and trade secrets.

If you think that not being a Fortune 500 or Nasdaq company lets you off the hook, think again, says Naomi Fine, president of San Leandro, California-based Pro-Tec Data, which helps companies develop strategies for protecting their intellectual property. According to Fine, "The risk can be larger for small companies because one loose lip can sink the whole company."

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.

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This article was originally published in the December 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Put A Lid On It.

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