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Sharing an office

Hi, Should a human resource rep share a office with two other people?

Sharing office space is very common. I’ve seen HR professionals stationed side by side in a single cubicle and even in desks in hallways. We can be placed anywhere!

Usually, HR staff share space with other HR staff. Each party knows the importance of confidentiality and professionalism and there is mutual respect for each others work. This is common and typically acceptable. Staff can use privacy screens on computers or book conference rooms to host private calls/meetings as needed.

Sharing space with non-HR staff is a concern. An HR professional at just about any level has access to employees’ sensitive information. Some may be responsible for maintenance of employee files, healthcare benefits, leave entitlements, or employee investigations. All of which would require the HR staff to discuss/display the personal and private information of employees on a regular basis. Sharing a workspace with non-HR staff increases the risk of inadvertently providing confidential information to others and even possibly violating HIPAA (the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The severity of inappropriateness really depends on the nature of the HR representative’s responsibilities. Regardless, the possibility of transferring private information should be carefully considered.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 at 9:34 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management.
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2 Responses to “Sharing an office”

  1. hrlady Says:

    What should i do if I share an office with two non hr people? I have asked for my own office a few different times and they tell me they have nothing available. I have been written up because the other two people have over heard some conversations between myself and a staff member. How is that fair? I need some help with this, i do not want to keep putting my job on the line because they do not have the proper work area for me.

  2. hrlady Says:

    It sounds like you’re in a difficult situation. You can continue asking for your own space and explain your concerns of other people continuing to hear or see confidential information. Clearly explain that there is only so much you can do to prohibit the other two staff from hearing your conversations since a large part of your job is speaking to people, either on the phone or in person. If your job includes having access to medical information (FMLA/ADA/health benefits), firmly express your concern with possible HIPAA violations. State that the company can incur penalties of up to $50,000 per HIPAA violation. HIPAA violations are serious and can cause an employer to incur costly fines and tarnish their reputation.
    Now, if your employer is adamant that there is no other space available and voicing your concerns are getting you nowhere, then you have to take every reasonable step possible to protect private information, even if that means using a conference room for phone conversations. Hopefully, your employer will then see how serious confidentiality is to you and make the appropriate adjustments for your work space.

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