The phrase ‘exposing yourself’ used to mean donning a rain mac and flashing unsuspecting members of the public but in the 21st century, the phrase has taken on a whole new meaning, especially in business. As a population we have become obsessed with laying ourselves bear on social media – detailing every life nuance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In addition, modern methods of communication mean we’re adopting a more ‘familiar’ way of conversing with clients, taking a step away from traditional lines, like the written letter and telephoning a landline. Every time we send a text, post a photo or update a status, we’re leaving a web footprint or accountable trail that can be hard to delete.

Two instances have recently come to light pertaining to modern exposure in the property industry, illustrating how ill-thought actions can have consequences. Firstly, a text message exchange between a prospective tenant and a letting agent managed to find its way into a national newspaper – printed blow-by-blow and inviting damnation from the masses via the ‘readers comments’ facility that comes with publishing online as well as in print. The content was disturbing for an industry that is seeking to build its reputation as a professional, trustworthy sector. Indicatively, the agent told the prospective tenant she was ‘not a customer’ – but that’s a subject matter for a different blog.

Secondly, we were privy to an email sent from an agency director to its entire staff, warning about conduct. Not in the office but how each employee conducts themselves online. Many social profiles invite users to reveal their employment details and this immediately links staff with a business. Of course, there are the unsavoury images of reckless evenings and eye-watering recounts of drinking binges but just as damaging is the ‘public airing of dirty laundry’, derogatory comments about employers and insensitive comments about life in general. Everything that ends up online has the potential to reflect badly on a company.

Privacy settings can help but there is a fine line between personal freedom and professional conduct in the 21st century. It’s not about telling staff what they can and can’t do after hours, or asking employees to curtail any personal views they have. It’s more about asking them to be careful with what they share online. Even if a manager isn’t reading a comment first hand, this type of information has a habit of reaching the directors through the grapevine. Something seen on social media must have prompted the agent to send such an email, so it pays to be careful.

What you can’t account for is leaked documents. Let’s gloss over the amorous shenanigans and blocked pipes of one high-profile agent. That’s a very unfortunate type of exposure!