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15 September 2007

Office Ethics I - Internet

You know, it's now Ramadan here, and people try to improve themselves during this holy month, they try to get closer to Allah (God), and do good things. And this inspired me to pick a new topic to talk about here, let me call it "Office Ethics".

I'll mainly focus on questions like, Is it ethical to do so and so?, and most of the time I'll wait for your answers, because I am not a preacher and I need your feedback to guide me.

Most of us have Internet connectivity at work, they work on PC's and they have IM's there such as MSN, AOL, etc. They are also allowed to surf the Internet and download music. So the question is, when you are supposed to work from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, is it ethical to do non-business activities during the working hours, like chatting with your friends, checking your Facebook profile, watching videos on YouTube, downloading movies, etc?

You may say that it is not ethical for sure, and you are wasting your time. But on the other, we are humans not machines, we cannot work continuously without taking any rest. For me it is a bit more clear. In the company I work in now, there is some kind of unwritten agreement, that people are allowed to was as much time as they want as long as they finish their tasks in time. Some other companies have certain softwares to block MSN, and P2P applications as well as blocking some web sites, but for sure they cannot block everything. I used to work in one of those companies before, but when I needed some rest I used to grab a paper and pen and start drawing. So at the end of they day, people are going to waste their time even if you lock them in a cages and order them to work continuously. The funny thing is that in that company I used to leave at 5:00 PM sharp, but now I can stay for many hours after 5:00 without being pissed off. I am also more productive in my current job.

But, is it all about delaying your tasks!? Sometimes people download movies and stuff from the internet, and this may slow down their co-workers connection, and affect their business related online activities. Sometimes your chit-chat may disclose some of your companies secrets? I hate it when people send me jokes and religious-stuff on my business email.

So finally, I want you to tell me:

* Is it ok to do non-business online activities during your working hours? (Yes - No - Yes, with limits, please mention them)
* Is it ok to send jokes and funny mails to your friends or co-workers on their business mail?
* How can you tell if downloading a movie, or doing a voice call is going to harm your co-workers connectivity? Aren't we supposed not to use those bandwidth intensive applications at work?

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