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Balancing effective compliance policies against the ubiquity of ephemeral messaging

Daniel J. Polatsek ( is a Chicago-based partner in Ice Miller’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Groups, where he oversees internal investigations and handles sensitive corporate governance and litigation matters for both public and private companies.

As we enter into the first quarter of 2021, the available evidence indicates that remote work is going to remain part of the work-life balance for much of this year. The US workforce continues to face unexpected pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs, while senior executive teams and upper management face pressures to meet revenue expectations and budgeted projections for both shareholders and Wall Street.

For many companies, these economic pressures require reductions in force, consolidating greater authority within a smaller workforce and executives who have less time to supervise and approve operational decisions. The dilemma now is how the private sector responds to the challenge of having to do more with less but just as fast.

The answer, in part, is better, faster, and more secure communication platforms, but the technologies that make speed and efficiency possible, such as ephemeral messaging (i.e., mobile-to-mobile transmissions that are designed to self-delete from the recipient’s screen after the message has been viewed) and employee use of personal devices for business, raise complicated issues for compliance departments seeking to manage risk without overmanaging business solutions that allow companies to stay productive.

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