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The Perils of Dating at Work ???

No, I am not talking about the proverbial manager and his or her mentee, or the woman and her mentor. There is an additional phenomenon happening today in many cubicles and in many offices. This phenomenon is thought to be secret, and happens during working hours, without leaving the office.

Employees  who frequent  dating websites while at work are growing in number…. Need I say the words “Ashley Morgan” to anyone? While allegedly “working hard”, there are a number of employees who are ”heartily working” at finding a date while on the job.  Of course, the obvious warning should involve the employer …. who finds out during an IT evaluation that the employee is working at more than just his or her job. Does your company have a policy about appropriate computer use? Do you remember if you have seen it? When you got it? What it says?  If you are “hardly working” you might want to know what that policy says.  Such policies often contain a provision that unauthorized computer use can be reason for termination.

The fundamental issue  is that companies are often either without a policy, or fail to adequately inform or enforce an existing policy. What does that mean for you as an employee?

Well, you are aware of the obvious: don’t bring this issue into play by surfing for a catch while at work.  Also,  be forewarned. Don’t think that switching to a cell phone is a better deal. Is it your company’s cell phone? Do they pay your bill? If the answer to either question is yes, they may have a right to information on your phone, in addition to the fact that you are supposed to be working, not texting your newest “find”.

There is another consideration that many people may not anticipate. Let’s say you leave your phone on the kitchen cabinet … and your spouse sees your email trail, or text.. and he’s not happy with what he sees. Once your recover from the divorce complaint you received, you may be disheartened to find that his attorney has sent a request to your employer for your emails at work. And, if the request is crafted correctly, his lawyer just might be entitled to them.  Of course, if your employer had no idea that you were searching for love on your “9 to-5,”  you now have two problems, rather than one. The employer may have to provide the information, and in the process discover your second “job.”

And don’t think you are safe if you are self-employed. That same spouse might be able to convince the court that they need access to your office computer, particularly if the request is correctly tailored for specific issues. The bottom line is to understand that your search for “a little fun” can have major consequences if that search happens on a computer, tablet, notebook or mobile device belonging to your employer, whether you work for a large company or a one person shop.

Have a question about computer use at work? Call me. I will be happy to answer your questions confidentially.

Remember, the computer access provided by your employer is for your employer, or even if you are self-employed, for your professional work, not ever  for your personal pursuits. And the argument that you somehow have a privacy issue is flawed at best.  Unless you work for an internet dating site, rarely are you going to be able to convince the employer that looking for love in all the wrong places is advancing your employers business interests. Its really pretty simple….
Just don’t do it.

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