9 to 5 Culture, The Lighter Side

Don’t Read this Article

…if you are at work, that is!

In fact, you might want to close this entire website from your browser. You don’t want to be caught reading “The Great Office Escape” on your job! And it doesn’t matter if you clear the search history or not. Your IT department sometimes has programs that will record your browsing history and send it right to their databases. While it isn’t likely that they are watching your every move the truth is out there: more and more employers are “spying” on the websites you view at work.

This kind of parental behavior is common in workplaces these days, especially ones with a lot of tight controls and micromanagement. But how can you really tell if your browser history is being recorded?

1. You work for a micromanager

If your boss is on top of you for everything you do, chances are good he is also going to be making sure you aren’t “wasting time” on the job by surfing the net.

2. You work at a financial or government institution

These places in particular keep extremely good records of each transaction and each piece of paperwork that ever crosses their desks. So it would stand to reason that they also keep good records of what their employees are doing on the job.

3. You have software on your hard drive that you don’t recognize

Sometimes those strange programs you see running on your desktop are just there for decoration, or because they came with your machine. But other times they are a sign that your actions are more likely to be recorded online. Even if this isn’t the case, if there is a lot of “stuff” on your computer, it stands to reasons that it’s more likely there is tracking software as well.

4. You work at a large company

Small companies with only a few employees often don’t have the financial power (or the time) to mess with something as insignificant as what you are doing online. As far as they are concerned, as long as you are getting your work done, they don’t care what else you are doing. Larger companies could actually take a lesson from this.

Why Spying on Employee Web Surfing is a Waste of Time

Many companies admit that they pay attention to the websites you are viewing while at work these days. I don’t understand what the point is, though. In the event that someone gets caught surfing the web, or playing some online video game all afternoon, one of two things must be true:

A. The employee is done with his or her work
B. The employee is not done with his or her work

In the event of (A), what does it really matter? I suppose you could say that there is always work to be done, but human beings are not robots. If you don’t give them time to recharge, the work they do perform for you will be subpar.

If (B) is the truth, then the issue isn’t that they are surfing the net, but that they aren’t doing their work – and that will show up in other ways.

Note to employers: the workplace is not high school. People perform better when given more freedom and scope to do work at their own pace. Monitoring your employees’ web surfing is also an opportunity cost. Treating your employees like children is not only doing them a disservice, but also hurting your company in the long run. Unhappy, paranoid employees don’t make for very productive workers.


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