COMPANY COMPUTER POLICY MANAGEMENT AND ENFORCEMENT
A concise and understandable computer use policy is essential to any business. An essential role of a manger is to develop a clear and legal policy with regard to the use of the companies computing and technological devices. This policy must be enforced equally throughout the company and there should be no exceptions. The failure to implement a legal and understandable computer use police in the workplace will result in great cost to any company.
In this age, computers and technological devices are increasingly being used by almost the entire workforce. Therefore, an essential part of being a manger in any company, whether the company is a small or large business, is to have an understandable, well define, legal, and monitored computer use policy. Furthermore, violations of this computer use policy should be dealt with swiftly and the enforcement of it should be uniform thought-out the company.
Personal use of company computers costs any company a great deal. When an employee is doing this on company time, obviously they are not working. A clear policy regarding this is an essential part of any company that uses technological devices. For, without a clear policy regarding computer use the employee may not understand that the personal use of computers is forbidden. The employee may also assume that, if a policy does not exist, then the company must not deem the matter of personal use of company computers to be all that important. Moreover, if one does not exist, then the company may not legally be able to terminate an employee for using company technological devices for personal use.
Wolgemuth (1993) states the following:
"Richard Bayer, an economist and chief operating officer of the Five O'Clock Club, an outplacement and career coaching organization, says employees who use a company computer for personal matters on company timewhether playing solitaire or checking on their 401(k)'sare essentially stealing from their employer. "It's a new, 21st-century form of theft," Bayer says, adding that a couple of personal E-mails each day are within reason."
Americans spend an about 21 hours on the Internet each month while at work. This is due in part to the fact that companies usually offer faster connections than those that employees might have at home. (Stoughton, 2000). This being the case, think about the amount of money that companies lose when an employee is using the Internet at work. In order to reduce this wasteful practice, employees must be informed that they are not allowed to use the Internet for personal reasons while at work. In addition to being informed of this, a means to block or monitor an employee's use of the Internet needs to be implemented. For, if a manger has no means to monitor an employee's use of the Internet when the manger is not around then there is then no means to enforce or prove violations of a computer use policy.
Also, in order to avoid confusion, a manager must draft an acceptable computer use policy that is clear to the employee. Using technical jargon is frowned upon being that not everyone in the company is a computer expert. Furthermore, the manager must be able to orally communication this policy to the employee and be able to explain any question that the employee may have regarding it. For, if there is no confusion as to what an employee can or cannot do then the employee's "misunderstanding" cannot be used as an excuse.
Attaran (2000) states that:
"The IT manager should take an active role in drafting a sound Internet policy for the organization. All employees should read this policy and acknowledge in writing that they did before they can log on to company network systems. The policy should be updated and communicated to all employees on a regular basis."
In addition, the computer use policy must be written in common, acceptable, and reasonable language to be legally binding. For, if it is not, then the employee might have recourse to file suit in they were disciplined to failure to follow the policy. It is also essential for a manager to know the current laws regarding computers and technology. In other words, the manger must also keep abreast of current changes in these types of laws. For instance, if the company plans to monitor email traffic and web traffic it may be illegal to do so unless the policy has been fully explained to the employee. These laws change frequently, and the manger need to be well informed about them in order to avoid lawsuits. In fact, currently, there are several cases regarding computer privacy issues that are undecided in court.
The enforcement of this policy should be swift. For, massive amount of data or hardware can be lost or stolen in a very short amount of time, if a manager allows an employee to continue in violations the company's computer use policy. Thus, enacting and ensuring quick punishment for this behavior is essential in order to send a signal to employees about how serious such a thing is, even if it is accidental or done "innocently" and in order to avoid costly damage to hardware and software.
For instance, an employee brings their own flash drive which has a virus on it and uses it with company computers. The company's computer system then gets a virus infection from the employee's flash drive. Regardless of an employee's knowledge of a virus, they can spread very quickly. So, it should not matter if an employee "knows" about it or that is was not intentional. Thus, if using personal hardware at work was a violation of the computer use policy, then the employee should receive swift reprimand in order to curb such potentially damaging behavior.
In all cases, or course, the level of reprimand should also fit the violation. For instance, one personal email should not result in termination, but perhaps a warning depending on the content or nature of the email. Thus, let the punishment fit the crime, etc. The policy should be universal or it should apply to all employees no matter if they are managers or workers. This will avoid unnecessary discrimination lawsuits or claims. Also, since the policy was written in order to protect company assets then managers and workers alike are and should be just as responsible (i.e. just because a person is a manager does not mean that they should be able to "get away" with downloading music with company computers).
In conclusion, all companies, regardless of what they make or do, need to be concerned with legal matters and with profits. Thus, the drafting of a legal, concise, and fair computer or technological use policy is of maximum important to any company that uses any technology. If will provide legal protection and recourse for the company if it is violated. In addition, having such a policy will make employees feel a bit more confident when at work; being that, they will not wonder or worry about where they stand on the policies of the company.
Attaran, M. (2000). Managing legal liability of the Net: a ten step guide for IT managers.
Information Management & Computer Security, 8(2/3), 98.
Stoughton, S. (2000), "Study finds workers spent 21 hours online last month", The Boston
Globe, 3rd ed, Feb. 22, p. D5.
Wolgemuth, L. (2009, March 11). 5 Ways Your Computer Use Can Get You Fired. Retrieved from http://www-origin.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2008/03/11/5-ways-your-computer-use-can-get-you-fired.html