Browsing the Internet at Work…Who’s Watching?

How many times do you get lost in a string of clicks at work and find yourself reading BuzzFeed articles about the 18 cutest animals that sat in boxes this year? It’s easy to get carried away on social media during the workday, but do you ever think about who might be watching your internet activity?

When you’re on the clock at work, it’s likely that your employer may be able to access what you’re doing online.

Many companies have strict firewalls that block certain sites. Others may have electronic surveillance software that tracks employees’ activity.

lazy employee


When you’re trying to create a healthy, productive, drug-free workplace, certain steps are necessary. Using electronic surveillance might be beneficial for your workplace, as it keeps employees from accessing certain things and lets you track activity if you need to find information later.

As with anything, there are pros and cons to consider. Here are the pros and cons of using electronic surveillance in your workplace:

Pros of Electronic Surveillance at Work

If your coworkers were spending 5 hours a day checking personal email, sorting through recipes and doing personal banking, you’d want them to have consequences, right? Electronic surveillance is one method of checking how employees are spending their time. If inappropriate online behavior is suspected, surveillance software allows you to determine the truth.

Monitoring employees’ internet activity can improve productivity, or at least prevent major online distractions. If employees know that their boss can see how they’ve been spending their time online, they are less likely to spend hours scrolling through their Facebook feed.

Sharing inappropriate things online and through email can make employees feel uncomfortable or even violated. Electronic surveillance software can help keep employees from feeling uncomfortable around their coworkers due to sharing things unfitting of the office.

Electronic evidence may be needed in future legal cases. Some litigation may require evidence from emails or internet history. Using surveillance software (in compliance with legal policies, of course) can reduce the risk of future litigation.

Cons of Electronic Surveillance at Work

Electronic surveillance software isn’t right for all work environments. Some companies pride themselves on a culture that fosters trust and employee commitment. In an effort to showcase their cultural values, employers may leave internet history monitoring out of the picture.

Many companies promote a strong work-life balance for all employees. When this is the case, companies notice a blending of work. This means that employees may be working extra hours each week at home, outside of the office. Therefore, adding some personal work to the mix at the office may not be inappropriate, and may be desired.

What All Companies Should do

Regardless of where you stand in this issue, all businesses should create an employee internet usage policy, train employees on it regularly, and trust them to follow the policy.

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