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Workplace Ethics #11 Social Networking Boundaries

There is no doubt the technological advancement has greatly improved the way we work and communicate in the work place. Technology has simplified work in many aspects and bridged the space and time divide across the globe. One of the biggest wave in the technological advancement movement is social media. Like it or not, we can detest it but we certainly can’t do without it.
Fortunately, or as a matter of mandate, most formal work places have provision for internet. It is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity for work place efficiency. Many companies and organizations are now on social media just like most of the staff more so

the younger generations. The challenge is how to draw the line between employee privacy and company ethical boundaries. How far can staff go in their efforts to build social networks which most of the times have a positive impact on their efficiency?

Technology in the digital age and the accessibility of the Internet allow employees to access personal email accounts and talk to friends and family in a variety of ways. This has led to increased employer monitoring of employee communications during working hours in an effort to maintain employee focus on work tasks. An ethical dilemma arises from employers potentially viewing personal employee information and respecting privacy rights. Both parties have their rights and yet the lines are blurred as to how far is too far.
Easily portable laptops and smartphones with word processing ability and email make working from any location a simple matter of finding a Wi-Fi connection. The shifting definition of the workplace also affects the ethics behind the standard eight-hour workday. Just because technology allows an employer to access her employees and request work at all times of the day, doesn’t mean that it’s the ethical thing to do. Changing the workday into a near 24-hour experience also blurs the ethical lines regarding employee compensation. Often times these benefits come with terms and conditions that must always apply.
An employee in possession of company equipment, including a cell phone or personal computer, may treat the equipment as his own personal property because of the mental ownership he develops through exclusive use. Ethical problems arise when an employee chooses to use these pieces of equipment for non-work-related reasons, including searching for a new job or accepting personal calls. Although these lines are blurred, it is wise to draw your own lines in case the company has not taken the initiative to do the same. The rule is simple, never treat company property like personal belonging. It doesn’t matter how long you work there; some day you will be required to hand over all company property as you exit to your next assignment.
 Social networking websites can also become technological battlegrounds between employees and management personnel. Monitoring employee social networking webpages has become a popular tactic for management and business owners and has blurred the lines as to acceptable workplace conduct and what constitutes lawful termination. Let’s face the fact that many employers now use social media to carry out background check about potential employees. Is it right? That is a question worth discussing.

You probably have access to the internet in work place and you are reading this during working hours. Interesting or coincidental as it is, we need to define the boundaries of social networking in the work place. How far should companies go to safe guard its secrets without infringing on the privacy rights of employees and equally how far should employees go in exposing the ethics and inside patterns of their work places through social media interactions.

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