How to legally and ethically monitor employees online
A look at the benefits and pitfalls of following your workers’ digital footprints.
Employers have a well-established legal right to track Web surfing, emailing and other activities by employees using company computers and mobile devices. But should they do it?
There can be several reasons in favour of monitoring. First, it can help protect your company from theft or other harm. Monitoring can also help affirm compliance with regulations, secure evidence in case of lawsuits and ensure the workplace is free of harassment. At least two thirds of companies monitor and half have fired employees for Web and email infractions, according to research by Nancy Flynn, executive director of the ePolicy Institute, a Columbus, Ohio, training and consulting firm.
Take Celeste O’Keefe for instance. The chief executive of DANCEL Multimedia, a Biloxi, Miss., marketing firm that serves lawyers, began monitoring in 2006 after noticing that employees too often hid their screens when she walked by. Her clients pay by the hour, and she wanted to make sure employees were working. O’Keefe asked her staff to sign a technology agreement and told them she would be watching.
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