The use of e-mail and the Internet is an integral part of the average employee’s daily life. Because of its speed and general convenience, email has replaced notes as the preferred means of communication. Workers’ access to the Internet is also important for conducting research and work-related tasks.
For these reasons, employers are often required to provide their employees with Internet access and email accounts. At the same time, the use of these facilities by workers also carries risks for employers.
One of the problems arising from workers’ use of email and the Internet is reduced efficiency at work. A recent study found that in past, an estimated £5.3 billion was lost to businesses due to active Internet browsing at work.
Another report found that employees spend an average of 30 minutes a day using email for personal, non-work-related purposes, costing the company nearly £1.5 million a year in lost productivity.
There are also concerns that companies may be held legally responsible for their employees’ computer use.
For example, another study found that nearly 72% of pornographic sites on the Internet are accessed during working hours. Openly browsing sexually explicit sites or sharing offensive material purchased online can create a hostile work environment. In addition, inappropriate messages sent via the company’s email system can expose the company to harassment, defamation, and other legal actions.
One study found that more than 50% of workers receive pornographic, sexist, or racist messages in the workplace.
Another concern is the possibility that workers will use the Internet in ways that undermine or violate their employer’s rights, interests, and practices. For example, some employees might use e-mail to disclose trade secrets or protected information of their employer or communicate inappropriately with competitors or customers.
So what are the solutions available to employers today?
To reduce these risks, employers must monitor their employees’ use of e-mail and the Internet in the workplace. Employers need to familiarize themselves with the legislation in this area and put in place policies and practices that minimize the risk of legal action and enforcement.
Such policies allow employers to monitor their e-mail and Internet systems, and employees to adjust their behavior to the fact that their employer may be viewing their communications.
The policy must be tailored to the work environment in which it is to apply. In many situations, such as remote work, the line between business and private use is very blurred. In other situations, however, email and internet access may only be made available to employees for clearly defined and limited purposes, so that the line between acceptable and unacceptable use may be clear.
Employers should consider these different factors when developing their policies. As a general rule, however, an effective policy should inform employees that the employer owns the e-mail and Internet systems and that it covers all communications and stored information. It should also indicate the purposes for which the system is to be used and what disciplinary action may be taken against employees who misuse it.
It should also contain a statement informing employees. That they should not rely on the confidentiality of communications sent through the system. These communications will be monitored to ensure that the employer’s assets are. Used only for authorized purposes.
Employers may also provide a non-exhaustive list of examples of what may be considered unauthorized personal use or abuse.
Electronic communication is becoming increasingly important in the modern workplace. As more and more workers access to email and the internet, the risks to employers increase.
The most effective way to manage these risks is to use Internet monitoring and control software. To monitor the use of the electronic means of communication available to employees. However, to resolve the tension between monitoring and employee privacy. Clear policies regarding email and Internet use that inform employees. That their communications are being monitored should also be developed.
Sarah Noah Liam is a 28-year-old Software Management person who enjoys programming, employees monitoring software, and screen recording. She has a post-graduate degree in Computer science. She was raised in a happy family home with two loving parents.