Workplace Rights

Weekly (12/15/08)

Topic of the Week  Privacy at Work

  • DO—use rearview mirror.
  • DO—know your company policies.
  • DO—use conference rooms.
  • DON’T—forget it’s their computer.

Executive Summary for maintaining your privacy at work

  • DO—use rearview mirror.
  • DO—know your company policies.
  • DO—use conference rooms.
  • DON’T—forget it’s their computer.

Private Parts—how do you maintain your privacy at work?

Your Rant: I learned that my company has software that allows them to read all my email. Is there anything that you can do to stop this? PEEPING COMPANY

911 Repair,

Like this poor woman, there are times where we’d all like a bit more of our own personal privacy, something that’s getting harder to find in today’s workplace. I’ve listed three do’s and one don’t for maintaining your privacy at work. For more, check out James Thompson’s book, “Cubicle Survival Guide” (Villard, 2007).

DO—use rearview mirror. A reader once suggested this privacy strategy for anyone who works in a cubicle. She put a plant on a shelf right next to her computer. In the plant she placed a small bicycle rear view mirror, the kind that attach to a bikers helmet. This allowed her to know if someone was standing behind her.

DO—know your company policies. Believe it or not, most companies spell out their policies right in the company handbook. It might not be the most interesting reading, but I always suggest that you know your company rules backwards and forwards. This isn’t a bullet proof shield, because companies have been known to break their own policies, but you’re always better off knowing what you and your company can, and can’t, do at work.

DO—use conference rooms. It is silly to take a personal call at your desk. Whenever I worked in a company I was always on the lookout for places that I could go when I needed some privacy during the workday. Many employees duck in a bathroom or stairwell, but they can be dangerous because you have no idea who might be listening in. My favorite option is a conference room, because you dramatically reduce the odds of someone listening without your knowledge. Or avoid the entire issue by limiting your personal communications to text messages during work hours.

DON’T—forget it’s their computer. Every week I get an email attacking a boss or company mailed from a corporate email address. You might as well spray paint your gripes on the wall of your cubicle. This is especially short sighted considering it’s so easy to get a free email account. But don’t stop there. Remember many companies monitor web sites that you visit. Limit your personal surfing and emails to your home computer and leave your work computer for work.

They always say, it’s not the crime that gets you in trouble, it’s the cover up. I can think of a woman in Nashville who would definitely agree with that. Protect your privacy and you won’t need to start a fire to cover things up.

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"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality"

–Warren G. Bennis

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