Internet and the Workplace

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The Internet and the Workplace

The Internet has become a pervasive presence in the American workplace. Two-thirds of employees in medium and large companies in the United States now have Internet access, compared with fifteen percent only two years ago, according to a sampling of 500 companies surveyed by the IntelliQuest Corporation. (IntelliQuest) Workers with Web access typically spend five to ten hours per week sending personal e-mail or searching for information not specifically related to their jobs. Popular entertainment sites, such as ESPN's Sport Zone, where visitors can check sport scores, and POGO where they can play games sustain heavy traffic during the work day. As everything from CD's to cars go on sale over the Web,
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Because of the potential hazards of using e-mail, employers must caution employees about what they write when communicating via e-mail. Also, employers must decide whether to allow some personal use of the workplace e-mail system, and employers must decide whether to monitor workplace e-mail. Employees have been fired or disciplined for "surfing" the workplace Internet and for visiting objectionable sites. In fact, a 1997 survey of employers, conducted by PC World, revealed that 20% had disciplined employees for inappropriate Internet use by suspending their Internet use or discharging them. For example, a Washington, D.C. law firm suspended an employee's Internet privileges when the firm discovered that he was using his desktop computer to access pornographic materials via the Internet. (Martin) He had sent a pornographic image from the Internet to a printer, where a co-worker saw it and complained to management. Also, an employee of a state agency was fired for repeated visits to sexually-explicit Internet sites on the agency's computer after he had been warned to stop. (Martin) "It upset me that someone was spending so much time digging into my personal Web site and reading everything and giving it to my boss. . . I didn't feel like my boss needed to act like my parents."[Employee's position regarding her employer's reaction to her personal web site] (Martin) Another question arises regarding employees' Internet activity which is
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