Technology in the Workplace – Cell Phones and Email and Internet, Oh My!

We live in a truly electronic communication age. Gone are the days when we relied solely on our home phones (do you even remember the time before caller ID and voicemail, not to mention answering machines?), sending and receiving letters through the postal service, and getting our news from reading the local newspaper or watching the nightly news on TV. Through the use of cell phones, email, and the internet, we’ve become a real Global Community able to share information and relate to each other through the touch of a button or a few clicks of the mouse. There is no disputing that these tools have, in all practicality, become a necessary part of life.

Cell phones, or ‘mobile devices’ as they are quickly becoming known as because of their versatility in reaching far beyond just making and receiving phone calls, are a part of everyday life for most people. We’ve become accustomed to being in touch all the time. They are a way we’ve adopted to keep tabs on our children. We use them as a lifeline in emergencies. They are an important convenience and are, for some, their only phone.

The internet has brought us unlimited access to news and information and we can check our email from just about anywhere we have an internet connection. We read, interact and communicate, blog, play games, watch videos, and just generally surf the web on a daily basis. For most of us, the internet and email are where we get the bulk of our news and information.

But how, you may ask, how does this relate to your conduct at work? In a word: plenty.

You probably spend more of your waking hours during the workweek on the job than you do at home. It’s hectic, I know. But always keep in mind that the reason you are being paid at work is to be productive for the company, not to take care of your personal affairs while you’re there. Generally, most companies restrict the use of cell phones and the internet. Resist the urge to text or talk while on the job and never use your work phone for personal calls. Hey, smokers can wait two hours until their break. You can also wait until then to check your messages. Your supervisor will appreciate knowing you are keeping your mind on your work.

If you have more than inter-company intranet at work, please only surf the web and check your personal email during the specified times allowed and, this is very important, remember that your computer is company property and any website you visit or IM you send is readily accessible to be tracked. Many people have been fired over inappropriate internet usage or sending gossipy IMs or by using their company email to send off-color, politically incorrect or spam-like cutesy messages and/or pictures. The best rule is: If in doubt, don’t do it. It’s possible to keep a professional mindset without being stodgy. Just be sensible.

Janet L. Burgar, November 2008