I received an email from a reader who did not want me to publish the contents of her letter, but wanted to me answer this question: Is there such a thing as privacy at work”. She was asking because she felt her privacy had been violated due to the fact that her boss read all of her “personal” emails on the laptop she used for company business. Apparently she had synched her private mail account into her Outlook, which also served as the host of her business mail account. When she went on vacation and left the laptop with her boss, her boss went through the contents and read several emails which we explicit in nature and time stamped during company time. The reader wanted to sue.
There is no such thing as privacy at work. Especially when you are using company equipment on company time for personal use. As I have blogged before, you have to be careful of how you use company property including computers, phones, and other items, for it is company owned, meaning the contents of said item(s) are also the company’s property. Most of the rules pertaining to the use of computers and other company equipment is usually outlined in your company’s employee handbook, which, as I have blogged before, is essential to know backwards and forwards.
Keeping your personal separate from your professional works best in almost any work situation.
- Keep your work email separate from your personal and do not merge the two into Outlook, Windows Live Mail, etc.
- Only use your work computer/laptop for work only. Any information including web use can be easily tracked on these devices, even after deleting the cookies.
- Don’t discuss private matters with coworkers and colleagues. It can become public record and later be used against you.
- Be careful how you mention your employer on social networking sites/blogs. Yes, you can be fired/and or sued for defaming your boss, workplace, etc. There is always someone watching.
- Attend work functions but continue to act in a professional manner. One drunken stupor at the company party and you will never live it down.
- Don’t social network with your colleagues/and or coworkers unless you want them to know your business. Yes, I have blogged about that too.
The best way to handle your work life is to keep it completely separate from your personal life. Intermingling of the two can just bring up problems and issues you may not be ready to handle.
As for my reader who posed the question which brought on this blog, she was terminated for using the company’s property improperly and for poor use of company time.
Don’t let this happen to you.