Personal Computer Use at Work – How Much is Too Much?

Do your employees have access to a computer during work time?  Have you established policies about computer/internet usage on-the-clock?  How much should you limit personal websites (email, social media, etc.) while in the office? 

While some companies prohibit all personal use, some feel that up to half an hour is acceptable. (Remember, if it’s no use – it’s no use – even for your BEST employee!)  These policies vary from business to business, but being discerning in how that time is used can be agreed on across the board.  Some general rules to go by include never sending email you wouldn’t want your boss to read (or your grandmother), not blogging about the company or other employees without permission, and not playing games on the job.

Statistics have shown that a large percentage (around 50%) of employees do their holiday shopping at work. While it may be harmless if done during lunch or other breaks, it could be costing you money if your employees are spending their dollars on your time.

To prevent the downfall of productivity that personal internet usage can lead to, there are several steps you can take.  One is by creating an employee policy specifying what is acceptable and unacceptable internet usage for work.  Another way to keep employees from consuming precious work hours with Facebook or instant messengers is by blocking certain websites that are not needed for work.  There is also software available that can monitor web activity for you.  This software can protect your network from viruses, as well as report who is spending their day shopping instead of doing their work.

While all these measures can reduce and hopefully eliminate wasted work-time, your policy may still be broken.  In this case, you will want to have a planned procedure for imposing the consequences.  This can range from a verbal or written warning to termination for repeat offenders who just won’t quit surfing the web on your dime.

While how much you limit personal internet use is a preference to be decided by each company, make sure to establish guidelines about what is and is not acceptable if you do allow your employees to surf the web while on the job.


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