Records Management Responsibilities While Working Remotely
Being a “Sunshine State”, Wisconsin has a long tradition of providing the public access to state government records. For University employees, this includes all materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, created or received by employees in connection with the transaction of public business on behalf of the UW System. All records must be managed throughout their entire lifecycle according to approved records schedules.
Your Key Responsibilities While Working Remotely
As when we are on campus, all work products are considered to be the property of the University of Wisconsin and must be managed throughout its entire lifecycle according to approved records schedules. Even while working remotely, we must continue our ongoing records management responsibilities to ensure the records we create are accurate, complete, and easily accessible. As a University employee you should:
- Recognize that you continue to create public records as you do your job remotely. These are used to perform the business of the University, record decisions and actions taken, and document activities.
- Manage public records that you create and use so they can be found when needed.
- Retain public records for the appropriate length of time and only dispose of them only according to approved records schedules.
- Protect sensitive information appropriately – even at home!
- Dispose of information that is not a public record when it is no longer needed.
- Be aware that medium, such as electronic or paper, does not determine whether a record was created; the content determines whether or not something is a record.
Protecting your Home Workspace
To safeguard the University information you work with, your home workspace should be protected just like your office workspace. This is particularly important if you work with sensitive or protected information.
- If you leave your workspace for a period of time, lock the screen so that no one can see University information or access the network from your computer.
- Do not share devices (such as your work laptop) or your university login and password information with people in your household.
- To the greatest extent possible, do not perform University business on privately owned devices. All records should be moved to University networks as soon as possible.
- Be aware that e-mails or files about University business that are created or maintained on a personal computer or other personal device are subject to disclosure under Wisconsin public records law.
Protecting University Records at Home
It is important that we continue to protect University information while working remotely. Unauthorized disclosure, alteration, loss or destruction of that information could result in some risk to the University, affiliates, or research projects. To help minimize this risk:
- Avoid printing University information at home to the greatest extent possible.
- If you do print University information at home, securely store the information when you leave your workspace.
- Do not leave any University records at home permanently.
- If the material you print is a record, securely store it until you can bring it back to campus to be filed and managed according to the appropriate record schedule.
- If the material you print is not a record, (convenience copies for example) it should be shredded when you are done working with it. If you don’t have shredding capabilities at home, securely store the material and bring it to work to be appropriately disposed of.
- If the record is electronic, save files to an approved shared-storage location on the network. Do not hold records on your laptop, personal device or other places that could result in it being lost or inaccessible during a public records request.
Remote Meeting and Records Management
Remote work has resulted in a move to online collaboration and meetings via such applications as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx just to name a few. Some helpful guidelines for online meetings:
- While many open source and free web conference and recording tools are available, they may not satisfy the university’s privacy and security policies or legal obligations. Be sure to use an application that meets the requirements for the type of meeting you are holding.
- Most meetings are not required to be recorded. However, if a meeting is recorded (i.e., video, audio, screen sharing), the recorded files should be maintained throughout its lifecycle according to the appropriate record schedule. You may need to work with your IT team to store recordings in a central location that is easy to manage. Take these factors into consideration when deciding whether to record a meeting.
- Since record schedules are created around topics or types of records, it may be most helpful to manage your records within a platform by topic according to the record schedule that applies to them.
- Records can be created in preparation for a meeting, during a meeting, or as work conducted after a meeting. These records should also be maintained by topic according to the appropriate record schedule for your campus.
- Like in-person meetings, records can include but are not limited to, meeting minutes and notes that contain substantive comments, unique information, or documentation of a business decision.
- Notes that one prepares just for one’s personal use are not considered records. However, the same notes may become records if sent to another person or a group to reference, or for the purpose of conveying information to others. This may be occurring more often now in lieu of face-to-face discussions.
Last Updated: 08/09/2021. This guidance was authorized by the UW System Records Officers Council.