Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

onion_imagearticle1709.article.jpgHi all. A quick shout out here from Hillary land. I just started a short temp assignment on top of my other gigs, and while I was drumming my fingernails waiting to get set up with the internet so I could accomplish my assigned tasks, I couldn’t help wondering, “Hmmm, would it be ethical for me to check my personal email on the company dime?” (Full disclosure: I did so. *Shocker*)

It’s a bigger question than just a quick peek at the ol’ gmail, obviously, as conventional wisdom has it that billions of dollars in workplace productivity is lost every year to workers blogging, internet shopping, IMing, Twittering, porn surfing and gawd knows what-all else when they’re supposed to be inserting Cog A into Wheel B. (One recent study, however, contradicts this, suggesting personal social networking during office hours actually increases productivity.)
Anyhow, the ethics underlying the issue of workplace web surfing just struck me more deeply today than usual. Perhaps it’s because my temp gig pays by the hour, for a specific time-limited task they need completed. Obviously, they know they didn’t hire a drone, they hired a human, and I as a human would like to remain connected to the outside world while I’m doing my job. Still, I acknowledge that they provide their online resources for business purposes, not kicks and giggles.
So, I just tried to keep it to a minimum, using the ‘net to keep me in the loop but not distract me to the point where my employers-du-jour could argue they aren’t getting what they paid for.
What do you think about personal use of the internet while you’re in the office?

Cartoon from TheOnion.com
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