Access to the Internet is available at most every workstation in most every company. Doing business in today’s global marketplace requires web accessibility.
The Internet has changed the way business is conducted in companies of every size and description enhancing the ability to access information, reach new customers, conduct research, maintain data and more.
Despite the obvious enhancements available to business through the Internet, study after study indicate that employees are spending enormous amount of unproductive time on the job by inappropriately using and abusing the Internet and their employer.
Every employer should have a formal policy related to employee use and abuse of the Internet and all employees should understand every aspect of the policy and the implications of abusing the policy. The employer is the “owner” of both the hardware and the software used within the company’s walls and, in today’s mobile telecommuting employment environment, many employers own the hardware, software and/or Internet Provider service for their employees who work remotely. It is therefore within your rights as an employer as well as your responsibility as the steward of your business to insure a productive and harassment free work environment.
Several guidelines should be established for using the Internet and e-mail in an appropriate, ethical and professional manner. They should not be used for transmitting, retrieving or storing any communications of a defamatory, discriminatory or harassing nature or materials that are obscene or X-rated. No messages with derogatory or inflammatory remarks about an individual’s race, age, disability, religion, national origin, physical attributes or sexual preference should be transmitted.
Illegal activities including piracy, cracking, extortion, blackmail, copyright infringement and unauthorized access to any computers on the Internet or e-mail should be prohibited. Copyrighted materials belonging to entities other than the company should not be transmitted on a company’s network. Providing the URL, or address of where materials can be found, to interested persons may be permitted however.
Internet use for purposes other than those used to conduct normal company business should not be permitted. All electronic communications are the property of the company therefore should not be considered employee confidential. The company should reserve the right to monitor, examine, and regulate e-mail messages, directories and files as well as Internet usage. The consequences for abusing this or any company policy should include disciplinary actions up to and including termination.
Electronic communication and Internet accessibility is a way of life for most businesses but ensuring that the workplace is productive, harassment free and ethical is the responsibility of every business owner and manager.