Coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre Tuesday 7 February is Safer Internet Day. Hundreds of organisations get involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.
Using technology at work
Some employers object to staff using the internet during working hours. Where use of a computer is part of the work monitoring is standard in some environments and takes many forms: some employers track content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard; some store and review computer files; others monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company by employees, and some monitor social networking sites.
Access to information and communication carries a responsibility to use it for the benefit the organisation. Failure to do so costs UK businesses millions of pounds a year, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). They found that UK companies are losing up to £2.5m each year due to non-work-related surfing. It also discovered that about 84% of employees in the UK have unlimited access to the Internet and e-mail.
A telecoms company sacked 45 staff for viewing pornography on the internet at work. Apart from the loss of working time such activity may lead to legal action being taken by other staff or people outside the company on the grounds of sexual harassment, an eventuality that is potentially damaging both financially and in terms of organisational reputation.
The problem of illegal material being found on workplace computers is also growing. As an organisation it is important to take responsibility for devices and networks used by employees.
Last year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a company which read an employee’s Yahoo Messenger chats sent while he was at work was within its rights. The ECHR said that it was not “unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours”.
They also made clear that it would not be acceptable to carry out unregulated monitoring of staff’s private messages, advising that policies should be drawn up to define what information employers can collect and how.
Online abuse of time does occur at work but we think monitoring is an over-reaction to the activities of a small number of employees.
- Create a robust internet and email policy that gives employees clear guidance around personal time online at work. Focus on trust and responsibility, without making staff feel like criminals.
- Train managers and supervisors to recognise when an employee might be abusing Internet time or sites at work.
- Creating and maintaining a culture of trust where employees self-monitor personal online time at work is the most effective approach.