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Internet in the Workplace
We may not have to jack into the Matrix yet like Neo in order to save the world, but the internet has increasingly become a larger force in our day to day lives. What once only offered a place to play games and research information, has now become something more akin to its name, the World Wide Web. And this Web has become an integral part to how many people do business.
If you’re the type of person who works in front of a computer all day long, the herculean will power you need to invoke in order to resist the temptation to watch cat and dog videos, or look at funny memes all day long can sometimes be hard to conjure. It’s human nature to want to be doing something which brings a smile to our face rather than writing a report or pouring over charts and numbers.
Many businesses have internal policies when it comes to the use of internet while on the premise. Some of these policies include the monitoring of employee workstations, software which restricts access to certain types of websites or programs, restricting personal use on company computers, or only allowing personal use when you’re on a break. If you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, or perhaps you own your own business and are about to begin expanding your business and looking to hire employees, creating a an internet and email policy is important to help your employees understand what is to be expected of them as it affects their work and workplace relationships and the success of the business.
Providing clear guidance to your employees so that they understand what is acceptable internet usage on work-provided devices, or employee-provided devices used for or involving employees, the workplace and the company is essential to workplace cultural development and business best practices to ensure the safety and security of everyone involved. Here are a few key areas to keep in mind when developing workplace internet policies.
SOFTWARE ACCESS PROCEDURE
Many businesses use specialized software on their computers which require specific licenses from the software developer for business use. Many employees are unaware that companies must pay the developer a license fee based on the number of employees who will be granted access to the use of the software. Because of this, most software nowadays is designed with security access features which requires each employee who requires access to have their own login and password. It’s also quite common to use customized logins and passwords which allow certain employees access to the internet and email. This goes a long way to helping maintain security within the company when it comes to accessing private information from customers, clients, or employees.
Any device or computer including, but not limited to, desk phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and iPads that the company provides for employee use, should be used only for company business. Remember, it’s not that your employer doesn’t want you to be able to access your own personal emails, post on social media, or watch cute baby animal videos – all of which shouldn’t be done on company time anyway – it’s that they want and need to protect the privacy of everyone working for the company, along with any important business communications or data which may potentially impede the business from being successful in the market.
As mentioned in the previous section, when using company-owned devices or computers they should only be used for company business. Internet use brings the possibility of breaches of the security of confidential company information. There is also the possibility of contracting a computer virus or spyware. Computer viruses can infect entire computer networks, shutting them down or impeding programs from working effectively. Spyware allows unauthorized people outside of the company potential access to company passwords and other confidential information. Removing these types of programs can be quite difficult, resulting is loss of information, money and time.
Additionally, under no circumstances may company-owned computers or other electronic equipment, including devices owned by the employee, be used on company time at work to obtain, view, or reach any pornographic, or otherwise immoral, unethical, or nonbusiness-related internet sites. These rules also are applied to the use of company email. If it is discovered that an employee has done so, disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination of employment. Keep in mind that the company owns any communication sent via email or that is stored on company equipment. Management and other authorized staff have the right to access any material in your email or on your computer at any time. Please do not consider your electronic communication, storage, or access to be private if it is created or stored on work systems.
Although social media is often employed to recruit new employees or enhance the company brand these types of duties are more often the responsibility of social media marketers, technical support, and recruiters who are aware of the proper security measures and usage of such platforms to ensure the reputation of the company and the confidentiality and protection of information.
Although there are yet to be any specific legislation or laws enacted requiring companies to abide by many of these policies, it is up to each individual company to create their own policies which best serve the safety of their employees and the security of their company. Keep in mind that there are laws related to company espionage, illegal use of unlicensed software, theft of company information, and the unauthorized release of employee information – just to name a few – and all of these things must be considered.
If you are unsure of your company’s policies concerning the use of internet or company-owned devices and computers, reach out to your human resources department for more information or clarification. Or, if you’re a business owner who is looking into developing or updating your policies around internet usage, consult your own business development team or legal counsel for more information.