From e-mail monitoring and website blocking to phone tapping and GPS tracking, employers increasingly use monitoring and surveillance to "manage productivity and minimize litigation, security, and other risks."
On numerous occasions over the past few years I've instructed my Gen-Y friends on the use of their firm's communication technology. At bottom my comment is this: You're probably being monitored. Limit your surfing to bare minimum or nothing. And never, never write an email longer than 4 or 5 sentences. Textmail? Absolute minimum. If what you need to say takes more than that, walk to the other person's cubicle or--get on the phone (phoning, I realize is more and more a tough sell, but. . . .).
The other day I stumbled on the statistics from the American Management Association's 2007 Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance Survey. File these away:
- 28% of organizations have fired employees for misuse of the internet
- 28% have fired employees for misuse of e-mail
- 76% monitor employees' web connections
- 43% store and review workers' data files (spreadsheets, word processing documents, etc.)
- 66% review employees' e-mail messages
I assume the technology buffs are aware that companies monitor keystrokes, the length of phone calls, time away from a desk, time between phone calls, and sending and receiving data through network connections.
Why do companies monitor employees in these ways? As a rule companies put three reasons forward. They own the technology, so it's their right. The technology also allows for quality control. And third, technology enables companies to increase productivity by decreasing instances of "theft of resources."
What does this mean for the average worker? Toss your idealistic, just-world notions. The path to success is grounded in the realpolitik of organizations.