Work Distractions – Thief of Productivity and Time
So many work distractions in today work environment that it has become a productivity thief. George, your Customer Service Representative, sits at his desk, actively sending out personal Emails and text messaging, all on your dime. To make matters worse, he occasionally sends off-colored jokes and sexually explicit material. Jane, the Receptionist, plays cards and shops on the internet for up to three hours per day.
Recent surveys indicate that almost 30% of on-the-job computer usage is unrelated to work. Non-job related computer use such as internet surfing, personal Emails, text messaging, and computer games are significant distractions to employee productivity, costing you thousands of dollars.
To help address these distractions, some companies monitor their employees’ computer usage at work. Employees, on the other hand, expect some level of privacy, sending emails and instant messages, especially when discussing private matters unrelated to work like medical information.
Charles H. Wilson, attorney for Epstein Becker Green Wickliff & Hall, P.C., provides the following advice on monitoring and creating a computer usage policy:
Employers mistakenly believe that mere ownership and control of a computer or laptop entitles the employer to unchecked surveillance or monitoring of an employee’s emails and instant messages say, Charles. This is not necessarily the case, especially if the employer does not have an appropriate computer usage policy or has one that eliminates any expectation of privacy.
Several recent court decisions have rejected an employer’s right to inspect an employee’s computer in the absence of clear policies and practices informing the employee that no expectation of privacy exists and that the employer retains the right to review emails and instant messages.
What to do:
To avoid potential liability for monitoring or reviewing private employee emails, employers should create and implement policies that eliminate any expectation of privacy. Employers should also train their employees on the system. More importantly, employers must practice what they preach and must not utilize a strategy that gives rise to the expectation of privacy or allow too many work distractions.