Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Your employer is watching your emails

Nowadays, it’s quite possible that the company or organization you work for is ‘logging’ your emails, both sent and received.

What that means is that your ‘corporate’ communications are not private. If you sometimes use your work email account for private messages, it’s going to be recorded.

Clearly, companies apply this practice so as to pull out an old email when necessary, to clarify a work-related issue or to simply find out what happened.

Accordingly, employees are strongly advised to maintain a formality in the nature of their communications through work email addresses, and keep the personal stuff on their Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or Maktoob accounts.

At those services, chances are your email records will never be recalled, unless of course you commit a serious crime whereby the US government can request your emails backlog; but that’s another story, and is completely different to the constant threat of your boss finding out how much time you spend emailing your friends about football topics instead of getting your work done!

This particular example, of emailing your friends, seems to be the incident most cited by IT managers as a ‘misuse of company time and resources’.

There’s also the impact of receiving and distributing large media files, which can slow down a company’s system or overload its server.

These actions can be used against you in any argument with the management regarding your productivity or dedication to the job.

Moving onto the more serious matter of work-related email messages, you should know that email is now ‘legal tender’, which means it can be used in a court of law.

When you put business issues in writing, they better be legitimate matters, nothing out of the ordinary and surely nothing that harms your company!

Some companies have clear guidelines on how to use the Internet on the job, in fact it is now part of many employment contracts in the US and Europe.

In such contracts there is an ‘acceptable limit’ to dealing with personal issues through ‘commnication tools provided by the company’. Some things are urgent, and don’t occur frequently.

Obviously, chit-chatting with your friends and sharing music and videos are not among these!

It’s not clear yet how many incidents of mis-use in Jordanian companies have resulted in the firing of staff; but maybe it’s worth researching this matter.

A recently released survey by the American Management Association found that 26 percent of private-sector employers have fired workers for e-mail misuse and that an additional 2 percent have fired workers for inappropriate chats via instant messaging.

So, watch out what you say in your ‘work emails’ and how you use your business email account; or your instant messenger application!

You have been warned!

(Published in The Star)


At 11:53 PM , Anonymous Khalidah said...

This is an extremely important issue Zeid and yes; it happens all the time here and abroad ... however; when a company chooses to apply such methods of detection; the least they can do is be as clear and transparent as possible with their employees; make sure that employess know that such policies exist .. otherwise; the company represented in its managemet is actually trapping the employees in bad faith .. which means they have violated the most important ingredient in the relationship .. i.e. trust

So, the employer does not trust the employees and is out to get them .. which will generate negativity in the workplace and may lead to bigger and more serious issues ..

Thank you for tackling this matter :)

At 10:06 AM , Anonymous Basem said...

In the telecom industry, I know for certain that most companies screen emails sent to specific domains, mostly competitors and other operators or vendors!

Usually prior to the launch of new services or promotions, but also to counter possible churning of its employees through offers sent by email (never use your company address for job hunting, get a credible personal email address).

At 12:55 PM , Anonymous Saad said...

Cool article Zeid


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