Monitoring Employee Internet Use

This accessibility presents a significant risk factor for company liability and costs employers tens of thousands of hours in productivity every day. Tracking employee internet use is one way to decrease employer liability, and whether you agree with the principles behind net monitoring, many companies agree it’s a necessary evil.

Internet abusers vary from top management workers in private offices watching hardcore porn, to the department assistant at a cubicle which spends 3 hours per day doing online shopping, making travel arrangements, and paying bills through the business Internet.

Defining Internet Abuse

Defining Internet abuse is the initial challenge, and creating a company-wide acceptable use policy (AUP) is your first step in the definition. An AUP defines what constitutes clear abuse in your organisation. What was acceptable online behaviour in one organisation might be unacceptable in another, so the AUP is a highly personalised policy, depending on the organisational mission? The organisation decides what lines will be drawn in regards to internet abuse.

The trick to a successful AUP execution in many organisations is very similar to other policy development issues at work. There must be “buy-in” in the “top”, in other words, the leaders of this organisation must agree to the fundamentals of this AUP and endeavour to push that coverage to the supervisors, managers and managers within the organisation. The most crucial phase of AUP development is determined by upper management “buy-in” and their willingness to demonstrate the significance of this coverage to the rest of the organisation.

Internet Workshops

Maintaining a series of Internet workshops together with the employees of your company is one way to present your new acceptable use policy. As an educational session, an online seminar can handle the sensitive issues surrounding clear abuse in an open forum where employees can ask questions and offer input at a non-confrontational setting.

During the online workshop, the company can start to educate the workers about Internet abuse and give them an opportunity to reevaluate their internet habits on the job. It’s essential to be as open as possible with your workers regarding your preferred methodology for enforcing the AUP.

For instance, if the company has chosen to employ internet blocking technologies, the AUP should specify the specific kinds of websites which will be blocked, for example, many organisations block porn, “gross depictions” and “hate” sites. Discussing the types of places the organisation has chosen to prevent and answering questions concerning the reasons for blocking will reinforce the organisational mission, and demonstrate the kinds of sites which are inappropriate in your organisation.

If your organisation tracks and report on employee web access, the workshop will provide you with an opportunity to show the workers what the stories look like, and go over the circumstances in which they’ll be used. Taking the mystery out of what the company is planning about internet monitoring and blocking will decrease employee speculation and establish new expectations throughout the organisation.

Issues with Internet Monitoring

The technical facets of blocking site access and monitoring employee internet access aren’t without problems. The software for blocking sites has progressed tremendously over the last five years; nonetheless, there are still problems with blocking “all” inappropriate sites and blocking sites that you didn’t mean to prevent. No system is perfect, and you’ll require assistance from your chosen software/hardware vendor as well as your information systems division.

If at all possible, it’s always better to meet, in person, with the seller representatives before the purchase of any online monitoring software. If you have an information systems department, be sure that they are involved from the beginning of the project to help address some technical issues that the new system could deliver.