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How to Set Rules for Internet and Email Use in a Small Business

Steps

  1. Consider the possible technology misuse problems.A number of problems can arise, including looking at inappropriate sites (such as pornographic images), carrying on a business surreptitiously (such as carrying on auction sales online), wasting time (anything from chatting to printing off recipes), downloading illegal items (such as pirated movies), and chewing up the costs of internet service provision when bandwidth is exceeded.
  2. Remember that not only is it difficult to police but you really don't want a workplace where spying on employees is a necessity.Instead, it is far better to make it clear from the outset what limitations you have set on internet and email usage and rely on trust. In general, misuse of technology does become clear when the employee makes a mistake, so it is far better to trust them and earn their loyalty and desire not to waste your time and money than to encourage rebellion through being miserly and mean-spirited about it all.
  3. Decide what is permissible.Take a positive slant and let the employee know what they can do with the technology. Good examples include:
    • Allowing employees to use the internet for their own purpose during breaks and lunchtime, provided they do not breach the rules about what is not permissible
    • Local phone calls for personal matters are permissible but not cell phone calls or long distance calls unless they document and pay for these (and perhaps seek permission in advance)
    • Email for personal matters is permitted only during break time and only through the internet; no use of the business email account for personal mail
    • Allowing personal calls on a business cell phone provided they come within a certain price, or otherwise the employee must pay the extra amount, etc.
  4. Decide what is not permissible.Have clear rules that state what isn't allowed, period. Such things include:
    • Never visiting pornography sites, illegal sites, hate based sites, non-work related sites [etc.]
    • Not using the internet to promote their own business interests; either they're here for the job they're employed for, or they're somewhere else completely
    • No downloading of any software, movies, sound bytes, etc. without prior authorization from you or the person responsible for managing IT
    • No personal emails on the business account
    • No long distance calls or cell phone calls from business phones [without permission]
  5. Balance work efficacy and employee satisfaction.When setting up the rules, be considerate of the needs of the employee and the need to actively trust those you have hired to be capable, competent, and trustworthy. Balance this with the costs to your business of any resulting misuse of technology – not only in dollar terms but also reputation and collegiality.
  6. Set up a structure for warnings.It is vital that employees understand from the outset what breaching the rules means. Create a three warnings followed by dismissal policy and have the employee read and sign this upon joining the business. Always make sure that any updates to this policy are brought to the attention of employees and signed off. Evidencing that the employee knew the consequences is a vital part of covering yourself if the matter ends up in court.

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  • It is helpful to employees to provide computer break programs set up on their computer if they are on the computer a lot as part of the job. When making a computer usage policy, don't just think about the potential for the employee to do the wrong thing; also think about the business liability for employee injury as a result of workstation set-up and computer overuse. Provide the facility for taking breaks, encourage breaks, and ensure that the workstation is ergonomically appropriate. Get help if you're not able to check the health and safety aspects yourself.
  • Ask other small businesses in your network for information about what policies they have in place, to help give you an idea of possible policy content, and to find out what challenges and successes that they have experienced in relation to technology usage by employees.

Warnings

  • Don't be so restrictive that your employees detest the lack of freedom and either sabotage the policy or bad-mouth you and the company. People respond best to respect and trust, so once your policy is in place, be reasonable about adherence to it.





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Date: 06.12.2018, 14:01 / Views: 65441