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Question

“Privacy and Technology in the Workplace” Please respond to the following:

Employers often want to find out if their workers are productive and loyal. Determine at least one (1) limit that you would place upon a private employer’s rights to monitor the productivity and communications of employees at work. Support your response.
Speculate whether employers should have more or fewer rights to monitor employee use of company equipment, such as laptops, tablets, and cell phones issued for out-of-office, potentially after-hours work. Suggest at least three (3) methods for an employer to monitor its employees’ use of company equipment. Provide a rationale for your response.

Answer

Privacy and Technology in the Workplace

The first limit that I would impose on private employers relates to the use of social media. Many employers have a tendency to impose severe constraints on the number of times employees can access social media while working. Others resort to permanently blocking some or all social media sites, such that employees cannot remain connected to their friends online whenever they are at work. Most employers justify this move by arguing that most of the time employees spend cyberloafing is dedicated to social media use. Instead of blocking social media access, employers should train the workforce on how to use it responsibly. Secondly, I would also impose limits on the extent to which employers can gain access to employees’ private information via social media and other online portals. In situations where employers have access to this information, I would prevent them from using it as a basis for employee evaluation, hiring decisions, and promotion criteria. It is unethical to use one’s personal information to make work-related decisions without that person’s knowledge and consent. In any case, some of the employees may deliberately publish incomplete or inaccurate information on social media in an attempt to protect their privacy.

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On the other hand, employers have every right to monitor employee use of their equipment such as cell phones, laptops, and tablet computers both in the workplace and during after-hours, out-of-office situations. It should be noted that the reason employers invest in the equipment in the first place is to optimize productivity. Even as employees use office technologies for personal activities, they should be aware of the need to prioritize the employer’s needs and expectations. For example, it would be imprudent for an employee to delay in replying to a manager’s email using the official tablet computer simply because he is too busy using it to chat with his/her former classmates on social media.

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