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Is your employer playing big brother?

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in Centerpiece,Office Communication,Workplace Communication

eye inside computerHow much does your employer watch you? Is there a policy about Internet use at your work? How closely is your Internet usage time tracked? What’s normal?

That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum:

“Where I work, our Internet usage is monitored, our time is tracked to the minute, we have to log in and out of every application so the managers can see who is doing what and when, and the steps of every project are time-logged to make sure we’re using our time efficiently. This has all begun to feel oppressive—even though HR tells us that it facilitates our performance reviews and makes the raises and promotions process orderly and noncontroversial. Does anyone but me feel caged in by the way so many jobs now keep such a close eye on us?”  — Blair, broker’s assistant

Readers offered their take on the issue.

“I can understand time being logged on an application-by-­application basis for such employers as CPAs, attorneys, and advertising firms, where customers are billed based on exactly how much time is spent working on their issues,” said Mark. “For most employers, I think that would be overkill.”

Kay agreed. “There is a certain degree of oversight to be expected, as Mark noted, but this sounds excessive. If your employer cannot tell by the work you are producing what kind of employee you are and whether you are getting your work done in a timely manner and must resort to overkill monitoring, the managers obviously do not have enough to do to otherwise benefit the company. … Is this the best use of talent?”

Gwen was fine with the employer monitoring the Internet usage, but balked at the time-tracking. “Our organization blocks access to most public websites to prevent web-surfing while on the job. A past employer had our IT staff install a system that monitored the computers and Internet access. I do not have a problem with either of those being done. Logging in and out each time you are online, however, seems like overkill and a huge time-waster.”

While some readers said it was important to remember that people should be happy to have any job and that the employer’s word is final, others said finding balance in the work­­place between a strict policy and an overly lax one was more im­­por­­tant.

“Extremely restrictive em­­­­ployers get less in the long term from employees,” Val said. “They are not happy and will leave as soon as something better presents itself. A place like that definitely does not deserve me.”

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