Website monitoring in the work place

Website usage monitoring in the workplace is now an integral part of most businesses. This has resulted in the monitoring by managers of the activities of their employees. The main reason for this emergence of having to monitor website activity was the fear that surfing the net is distractive and eroding productivity. However, inappropriate use could open the company to legal action and other headaches. Monitoring or spy software is being employed to ward off potential problems. Such as harassment claims, protect against unfair-dismissal complaints and guard against scandal.

Computing has made it possible to boost productivity in the office. But it has also opened the door to greater temptations for abuse. As bored workers have time wasters at their fingertips, malicious ones have more options for undermining their bosses or colleagues. Furthermore, employers can use the same technology to electronically spy on what their staff are doing. There is no doubt privacy at work is diminishing. Recent studies have shown that managers monitored employees’ online activities all the time. Not just when something gave them a reason to investigate.

Computer monitoring takes various forms; with employers tracking content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard, storing and reviewing employees’ computer files, keeping an eye on e-mail and retaining and reviewing messages. The number of employers monitoring the amount of time employees spend on the phone and track the numbers called is also increasing. Video monitoring to counter theft, violence and sabotage and tracking employees’ on-the-job performance is also increasing.

Website usage monitoring – For an organisation to succeed it requires motivated and intelligent staff.

If freedom of action is too restricted the staff will soon be looking to move on. Reasonable communications with family and friends during working hours on the internet is no different from the access to a newspaper or to a telephone during working hours.

The recently introduced Workplace Surveillance Bill 2004 (NSW) prohibits certain forms of covert surveillance unless such surveillance is conducted pursuant to a covert surveillance authority. It imposes restrictions not only on video surveillance but also on computer and tracking surveillance. Furthermore, it imposes restrictions on the ability for employers to monitor their employees’ email and internet use and restricts. Furthermore, it regulates the blocking by employers of emails and internet access of employees at work.

Moreover, it is crucial that every company has a signed “black-and-white” agreement about acceptable use agreement acknowledging the firm’s Internet policy, to avoid trouble. Employers should ensure that any current policies are reviewed and updated. To ensure that it clearly outlines the circumstances in which emails will be prevented from being delivered or access to websites will be refused.

Better monitoring can help businesses identify better usage methods for technology. But having good policies leads to better harmony and productivity in the workplace.

Disclaimer: The above advice is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Therefore, should not be relied upon without seeking further profiessional advice.