Personal Computer Use at Work

Companies today conduct the majority of their business on computers. Employees should not be using company time and computers to surf the web, send personal emails, and use social networking. They should be doing what they are paid to do: work. Even when warned that it is against policy to use their computers for anything that is not work-related, employees still do it. It is so easy to skirt the rules and do a little bit here and a little bit there. However, that all adds up to lots of time wasted.

“Minds have wandered since the beginning of time and the computer gives employees new ways to procrastinate,” wrote Judge Alex Kozinski. Most employees are very good at putting off work if there are more fun things available to them. It is much more enjoyable to shop for shoes or follow the game than it is to put together reports and crunch numbers. Sure employers want their employees to be doing the latter, but how do employers crack down and enforce their computer usage policy? Laws exist that allow employers to monitor all computer usage at the workplace. When the company owns the computers, servers, and networks, they have the right to monitor them as they see fit.

There are several problems that result from personal time spent on the internet. At the least, productivity is hampered. At the very worst, proprietary information, company secrets, or protected information can be leaked. Falling somewhere in the middle is inadvertently allowing in viruses and malware that corrupt computers and sometimes whole networks. The best way for a business owner to avoid these problems is to use software or off-site IT companies that monitor computer usage company-wide. Websites visited and even for how long can be recorded. Inappropriate use of company computers can be flagged and reported, providing employers with valuable information.

It is wise for business owners to not only have a policy in place prohibiting personal computer use at work, but to make it known to employees that they are being monitored. Inform staff that embezzling company time is not tolerated. Explain that it is being done not only protect the company, but to insure a high level of productivity. In a perfect world, educating them should help eradicate some superfluous activity. However, saying it is not enough. Following through and actually setting up a service or software to act as watchdog is very important. Don’t you want to know who is cruising dating sights and watching videos? Not to mention who is looking for a new job or updating their resume.

Unfortunately, sitting in front of a computer gives employees a feeling of security to conduct personal business. It is simple to switch back to work if the boss is coming, people are not often sharing computers with coworkers, and employees do not feel that bosses will enforce the rules. By putting a system in place to keep tabs on employees, the integrity of the company and its computer systems can be maintained, as well as a high level of productivity. Don’t pay workers to spend their day enjoying all the internet has to offer. Pay them for working hard and getting their job done.