Take the Time to Understand Technology Use Policies

Published Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:00 AM

Learning how to use your new office-issued laptop or cell phone is no longer enough to keep you current in today's workplace. Today, we must understand when to use these devices.

If you've ever surfed the web at work or sent a personal e-mail or text from an office computer or mobile phone-and who hasn't?-you need to take the time to understand your office's policy of acceptable technology use.

Did you know that a quarter of employers have fired workers for misusing e-mail and nearly one third have fired employees for misusing the Internet? That statistic comes from the 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey  from American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute. It's worth a read to see what other forms of technology use have landed employees in hot water.

Most corporate work environments have technology use policies in place. Consult with your human resources team or manager to be sure you're up-to-date. If your firm is small, and doesn't have protocols in place, encourage management to formalize guidelines

Keep in mind that the landscape of what is acceptable and legal often shifts. The Supreme Court  will soon decide if a California police department violated an employee's privacy when it inspected personal text messages he sent using a work-issued pager. Avid texters, and companies that issue handheld devices, will want to be well-informed about how the decision affects their workplace.

Workplaces need to minimize litigation, security and other risks. They also need to manage productivity.  So scrutiny of employees' use of office technology is going to be an ever-present part of the modern workplace. Arm yourself with information to stay on track. That way, the next time you pick up your office-issued cell or get on the Internet, you can be confident that you're adhering to best practices in your usage.

Does your workplace have a clear cut policy on acceptable technology usage that you can share? What standards are most helpful in managing your day-to-day technology use? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers


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