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Do You Have Email and Internet Usage Policies in Place?
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By Ken P. Smith

As the Internet and email have become a big part of our everyday lives, employers need to make clear the separation between work and non-work. What someone would consider appropriate with friends may be out of line in the workplace. Each practice needs to have a clear, written policy in place to eliminate confusion by the employees on what is and is not acceptable.

Here are some simple steps to take when implementing an Internet and email policy.

Personal usage

The policy should state whether personal emails are accepted and, if so, to what extent. It can be acceptable to tell your staff that the Internet and email should not be used at all for personal reasons. However, recent surveys revealed that almost 90 percent of workers used their company email to send and receive personal emails. Knowing that, it may be more realistic to set limits on the amount of time spent on the Internet for personal use.

You will probably want to prohibit the sending of chain letters and mass mailings and limit or eliminate certain email attachments from being sent or received. In every case, include examples and clear actions that will be taken when these rules are broken.

Remind employees that electronic mail is the property of the company and of the employee and that they should not be using email for personal messages. The primary reason for accessing the Internet should be for business purposes and that the company will review its use at anytime. Clear communication with the staff will set the tone for a safer and productive office.

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