Personal Internet Use at Work

I’ve always wondered what IT Managers really track when it comes to employees’ personal internet use at the office.  So I got in touch with an IT Manager who has a lot of experience at both large and small companies, and here is what he had to say.

“In my current (smaller) environment, we do not track or restrict internet usage.  We have a department that serves as the IT staff for small businesses. Liberal internet usage is somewhat required, and even encouraged for research and sales/marketing development. We also promote a flexible workplace. Often our staff will work from home on nights/weekends with full access to the tools they need, because of this, they will sometimes spend time while at the office sending personal emails, chatting, and social networking. As long as assigned tasks get completed, nothing that isn’t inappropriate (pornography, gambling, etc.) is ‘out of bounds.’

In my previous larger/corporate environment, we tracked all internet usage with software (SurfControl), and blocked instant messaging. Reports of each month’s top-10 users, and users who used the internet to look at pornography were created and submitted to HR. Due to the nature of their jobs requiring a lot of internet usage (routinely researching issues and communicating with various technical support avenues), and actually unbeknownst to upper management, the IT department exempted themselves from these reports.  Rarely did anything but a slap on the wrist occur to the most severe abusers. It was widely believed throughout the IT department that it was merely a scare tactic, and a tool to use when looking for an excuse to fire someone. If not, we could have just blocked pornography. Make sense?”

Personal internet use seems totally normal and hard to live without for corporate Gen Y’ers.  My advice is to make sure you’ve read and understand your company’s Code of Conduct policy as every company’s is different.  If you are afraid of being laid off, consider keeping your personal internet use to a minimum so that your manager can’t pull your records and come up with an excuse to fire you.  I know someone who got fired for Instant Messaging at work.  Ouch!  Not a fun thing to talk about at your next interview.

The more obvious question here is, why would you even have to worry about this anyways?  If you’re on the internet all day, then you are probably not in a challenging enough position.  Or, perhaps it is challenging but you are bored to tears because it isn’t something you enjoy.  If you are reading this article because you are paranoid about “getting caught” or afraid that your popsugar addiction is effecting your work, then consider where you are and where you want to go in your current career.

One response to “Personal Internet Use at Work

  1. The Writerbabe

    I have no idea why corporations bother to track internet use at work, as long as work gets done – why should they care? Sometimes, people need distractions in order to focus on their work – after all – who wants to spend 8 straight hours devoting their entire day to just WORK?

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