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Are your employees allowed to use work provided devices for personal use?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Are your employees using their work provided devices for personal use and are they allowed too?


Your Human Resources Policy states that the Company computer systems and devices provided to employees are intended for business purposes and may be used only during work time. However, the policy goes on to state that limited personal use is permitted if it doesn’t hinder job performance or violate any other Company policy.

 

Should a company allow personal use of computer systems/devices or just make a blanket statement that they are for business purposes only?

If the company does not allow personal use of computer systems/devices, it’s pretty black and white. Companies and managers can (and should) discipline employees for violating this policy. However, if the company chooses to discipline some but not others, then it becomes a problem. In other words, if the company allows its managers and executives to check their personal email using their work computer, then it needs to allow everyone this option.

 

One might argue that not allowing personal use of company computers is the easier path to take. But not necessarily. Whether you allow personal use or not, someone is likely to break the policy, regardless of which way the company chooses to go. Some employee will use their work computer to check their personal email regardless of the policy. Managers cannot just turn a blind eye. There must be consequences for breaking the policy.

 

On the other hand, if the company allows personal use of company computers, some employee will spend much of their day checking their email, communicating on social media or looking at who knows what else and not getting their work done. Again, managers must discipline this employee. If this employee that is violating the policy is a manager or an executive, then the consequences need to match what an entry level employee would receive. At the very least, it needs to be documented in their file and show up on their performance review.

 

Someone will always violate the policy. So do you allow personal use or not? Ask yourself, what would you want? Not everyone owns a smart phone. Some people still check their email using an actual computer. Don’t let one person ruin it for everyone else. We live in a world of technology. If employees know that they can check their email, pay a bill, or do a bit of on-line shopping during their lunch hour, then let them. This will improve employee morale, convey a sense of trust and make for a better company work culture. It’s an easy win for companies. But be consistent in disciplining those who violate or take advantage of the policy.

 

Bottom line: have a policy that clearly states the company position. When discipline needs to occur, it’s important to be able to tie that discipline to a specific Human Resources policy. Contact us today to help you establish a concise policy on using work provided devices.

 



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