Archive for May 2, 2010

How much is too much?

May 2, 2010

I remember once in our cyberlaw class our teacher started a debate on employee privacy by asking a question, “Do your employers have the right to monitor your activities in the workplace?” We all had different opinions but like it or not, nowadays employers are monitoring their employees more than ever. They may spy on their employees in ways like computer keystrokes and files, Internet and email usage, Locations and activities, phone conversations and numbers dialed and job performance. It is somewhat of a controversial subject.

As an employer, you are in the position of monitoring everything that goes on in the workplace. Because you don’t want to pay high costs associated with losses caused by employee theft, vandalism and lawsuits. Safety warrants your monitoring! But do you practice what you preach?

I mean, sometimes there is a diversity between what companies say and what they do. There is  serious tension here, between the concept of monitoring and the idea of privacy. How far are you going to go? What I’m trying to say is that employers should have clear policies on what activities they monitor. They should specify their expectations of employees related to the stated policies.

On the other hand, trust and values as an employee are important when it comes to performing the job effectively. When we accept a position, this means we’ve already accepted the company’s policies. Everything that has been provided in our workplace is the company’s property. So, what makes us think that we have the right to use them as personal property? How could we lose our perspective on the meaning of the workplace as a place for work?

Here is the thought, if we are using the company’s Internet and computer for personal activities, it is obvious that we are decreasing our productivity. No matter of what we do, it will affect our performance in a major way. And also anytime one goes on the Internet, in most instances, there is a chance that his/her firewall or security program could be breached. Just imagine the computer being used has highly classified information about the company, its resources and its employees. What a disaster for the company and the employees as well!

In my point of view, whether you are an employee or employer, you must have reasonable expectations of privacy and a better definition of  its scop in regards to better cooperation and mutual respect.