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5 Ways To Effectively Protect Your Intellectual Property

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5 Ways To Effectively Protect Your Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is one of the most difficult things to protect. There is no greater hazard to your company than losing these critical pieces of information. Whether they’re plans for new efforts in assembly, or simply the materials you use to train your employees, the risks of losing such information to your competition are real and potentially very expensive over the long term.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

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1. Secure your materials

As with anything valuable, you must secure proprietary information where it is stored and handled. When your valuable are virtual goods like training materials, one of the most important things to consider is comprehensive network security. Failing to implement security is an invite to hackers and thieves to help themselves to your confidential data.

It can be difficult to convince personnel that these steps are as important. It is a worthwhile investment of your time to conduct in-service training or host other activities to impress upon everyone that utilizing the required encryption, password protection, and firewall steps is as important as locking the front door of the Louvre.

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2. Don’t train your tentative employees until they need it

Secure information is often described as being available on a “need to know” basis. If someone doesn’t need to know, don’t tell them. Apart from reducing the amount of training that goes on, this also helps secure data. Imagine taking a new employee through a full week of training on your materials and then losing him or her–and subsequently, the intellectual property–to a competitor. There is always the risk of that happening, but if that employee did not yet need to be trained in so many aspects within the first week, it was an unnecessary risk to have taken.

This also cuts down on wasted effort in training. It can be very exciting when new methods or topics come available, and the temptation can be great to hurry and get ahead of the curve by training personnel as quickly as possible. However, the inevitable bugs associated with the rollout of new versions of any product–concrete or virtual–necessitate a more measured approach in training personnel. That brings us to our next point.

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3. Keep the target moving

Sometimes the best strategy to avoid theft of your intellectual property is to change it. It doesn’t require a complete overhaul of everything you do, just a few basic changes or re-ordering of steps.

A good example of this, on a simpler level, is the evolution of company logos. While we think the Golden Arches at McDonald’s are unchanged from Ray Kroc’s earliest days in the U.S., the fact is that there has been an ongoing evolution in the coloration, shape, font, and so forth ever since it first emerged.

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Think of your training the same way. For starters, any product, service, or system that you are training on will undergo periodic changes. Anything technological certainly will. So sometimes, the mere passage of a few months can make any pirated information obsolete. And if you can accelerate that process, even just a little, your vulnerability is even lower.

As an employee, the knowledge and materials generated by your employer required many hours of work and significant financial investments to create. It is your duty not only to make use of them, but to make sure that they stay in-house where they belong so that those investments pay off.

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4. Make a habit of documenting everything

Just keeping patents is simply not enough. When you register your patent and start working on your idea, you start a war with a lot of people who are in same industry. Keeping a journal is a best practice. This journal should include everything from the inception of the idea, every meeting you make, every person you meet. Doing this will help you really grab hold of your idea and aid you in auditing any leaks.

5. Execute your ideas quickly

Our mind is a thinking machine, and sometimes, when it’s on the move, it showers us with noble ideas, but it can also feed us negativity and depression. When you think an idea is worth chasing, you should act on it fast. You’re never sure whether somebody, somewhere, might have a similar idea, and beat you to it. As businessmen put it, idea plus execution plus investment increases your chances of success.

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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