The Internet and e-mail have become indispensable tools for business, but many companies are finding employees are using these tools as much or more for personal activities than job-related tasks. In fact, many business owners have recognized that unrestricted use of the Internet by employees has the potential to drain, rather than enhance productivity and, at worst, can even have dire legal consequences.
A Two-Pronged Approach
To reduce the risk and minimize non-productive activities, business owners are utilizing a two-pronged approach: (1) Implementing an Internet Acceptable Use Policy (IAUP) and (2) installing a monitoring system to restrict and police employees’ online activities.
An IAUP is nothing more than a written agreement that sets out the permissible workplace uses of the Internet and e-mail. In addition to describing permissible uses, an IAUP should specifically set out prohibited uses, rules of online behavior, and access privileges with penalties for violations of the policy spelled out, including security violations and vandalism of the system.
Not only does an IAUP reduce wasted hours on the net, it can also reduce bandwidth and equipment needs, as well as shield you, the business owner, from possible sexual harassment and other lawsuits arising from your employee’s inappropriate use of the web.
An IAUP Is A Good First Step, But It’s Only Half The Battle Won
Unfortunately, not everyone follows policies, and some accidentally will violate your AUP. To ensure company policies are being followed, businesses are choosing to monitor all Internet activity initiated by their employees using a web content filtering software (or hardware).
Content Filtering Software available today, make monitoring of employee Internet usage simple and easy. Most companies choose to regularly monitor summary level activity like hours connected to the web, the number of sites visited, and illegal or banned sites visited by the company while leaving detailed transaction reviews as necessary on a case-by-case basis.
And if someone complains that this is a violation of their privacy, rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not only legal but good business. After all, they are using your company assets and if employees are focused on productive work and minimize personal use of the Internet, you’re likely to never need to address their Internet usage. Just be sure to include a clause about Internet monitoring in your IAUP and have your employees sign the agreement.
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