According to recent research, one in ten UK employees watch porn at work. Have they ever thought that their employer may easily track visited web pages and minimizing a browser window when their boss enters the room or using the incognito mode are of no avail here? What’s worse, are they aware that, if they continue watching adult web sites during work hours, they even may get fired?

Watching porn is only one of many misconducts of employees at work, but it seems the least ethical one. Visiting other sites or checking your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account during break shouldn’t upset anybody as you ought to be able to spend your time off according to your liking.

However, using company network at a regular basis to chat with friends, browse fun or porn websites, shop online, etc. shouldn’t be tolerated by an honest employer. If you, as a company owner, are fair towards your workers, favourably inclined towards their needs and ideas, you should demand fairness from them as well.

Browsing the internet for 15-20 minutes daily, excluding the porn content of course, to relax oneself and take a break is acceptable, especially if it facilitates regeneration and going back to work duties with new reserves of energy and creativity.

This phenomenon has been defined and there are solutions available on the market to detect it and counteract. Gathered proofs can be used as the basis for a serious conversation with a dishonest employee and a possible lay-off.

Cyberslacking – definition
Cyberslacking – opinion of office workers
Cyberslacking and law Lay-off for cyberslacking? Suing employer for being accused of cyberslacking Cyberslacking and monitoring employees Limiting cyberslacking Spying on workers’ computers and cyberslacking Spying on workers’ company phones and cyberslacking Fieldwork and cyberslacking

CYBERSLACKING – DEFINITION

Cyberslacking is a new phenomenon defined as increased use of the internet on company computers by employees for their personal use or entertainment.

One of its kind is goldbricking, meaning performing less work that one is able to but maintaining the appearance of being super busy, when in fact slacking.

Activities defined as cyberslacking are, among other things:

  • frequent checking private e-mail account, receiving and sending not work-related e-mails
  • visiting web pages not connected with work duties
  • watching YouTube and online films
  • downloading files for private use (also the illegal ones from, e.g. torrents)
  • using private social media (like Facebook to chat with friends and not to work as a social media specialist)

It needs to be emphasised that cyberslacking seriously lowers workers’ productivity and costs companies millions of pounds each year.

CYBERSLACKING – OPINION OF OFFICE WORKERS

Workers defend their right to browse the internet at work. They claim that, although employers are right that at work they should be performing work-related duties and relax during the break, they’re not robots that can relentlessly and effectively work for at least 8 hours without fatigue and tiredness that may have negative impact on their performance.

That’s why more than a half of surveyed workers visit online news or fun portals – to have a break from work and mundane tasks. Interestingly, usually older workers have more negative opinion on using the internet for private purposes. Nevertheless, almost every worker uses company network for not only work-related matters, though some of them deem this behaviour as reprehensible towards their employers. Nearly half declare using the internet at workplace for private matters for no longer than half an hour a day.

That’s why cyberslacking is a complex phenomenon – reading two online articles as a way of having a break cannot be compared with spending hours on online shopping or browsing Facebook when the list of work duties is getting longer and longer.

CYBERSLACKING AND LAW

Each employer should have well-drafted and broadly communicated policies and procedures concerning employees’ use of company IT systems. They also need to ensure that any monitoring of usage of these systems is justified, limited in scope and conducted in accordance with data protection legislation.

Most companies have a policy on internet use and employees need to make themselves familiar with it. Employers do understand that ban on using the internet for personal purposes during a break is unreasonable but workers need to understand that cyberslacking at workplace is an unacceptable use of company time.

Although company policies concerning internet use may seem obstructive and unfavourable, they are drafted to protect not only the employer but also the employees.

LAY-OFF FOR CYBERSLACKING

If an employer suspects a worker of cyberslacking, they should have a serious conversation concerning work duties and effectiveness.

If such reprimand doesn’t bring expected results, cyberslacking may constitute a reason for lay-off. In the recent court case Bărbulescu v. Romania, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) clarified an employers’ rights to monitor the contents of their employees’ private electronic communications. Mr Bărbulescu’s had a Yahoo Messenger account for business purposes, and he was made aware of a Company policy forbidding any use of computers for personal purposes. Nevertheless, he regularly used this account for exchanging messages with his fiancée and brother and was laid-off as a result of these actions.

Each method of monitoring employees in search of cyberslacking activities is a sign of lack of the trust towards workers, but if they use company computers, phones or cars these actions are necessary in order to avoid financial losses that may be incurred by the company due to this kind of behaviour.

  1. Smartphone and computer monitoring

Employers are entitled to check how their employees use company equipment, like computers or cell phones. They may and even should control what employees do during work time and whether they perform their duties, especially when working remotely or off site. It is not about a deliberate interference in their private life but monitoring whether they do perform work-related duties and don’t act to the detriment of the company.

If an employer wants to make use of special software monitoring workers’ activities on company computers, each person should be notified beforehand. Special policy needs to be drawn up and presented to the staff.

  1. Limiting access to websites

What can be done instead of spying on staff? You can limit access to particular websites, like fun or social media portals, if they are not used for work-related tasks in your company. On the other hand, this solution may be perceived as limiting and may result in aversion to the employer who restrictively treats monitoring work time.

  1. Introducing external system of monitoring work

Some companies have external systems of monitoring work with projects, tasks and time allotted to them by the staff. Each employee should diligently report their timesheet every day. Then the employer is able to deduce if the tasks are too complicated and exhausting or whether some employees are not effective as they spend too much time on simple jobs or fill in the timesheet perfectly but there are no notable effects of their work.

LIMITING CYBERSLACKING

According to research, 65% of workers in the United States gives permission to being monitored in their company network. Persons having no reservations towards checking their activity on company computers usually have nothing to hide – they simply do not use the internet for private purposes, and if they do, they spend just a few minutes and do not consider that as a loss for their employer, for whom they generally work diligently.

The problem appears when a few minutes turn into a few hours of idle internet browsing every day, and also when a worker takes care of private orders that should be done outside of the working hours. Using one company’s resources to perform work for a different employer, especially if it is competitive, should not be tolerated.

SPYING ON WORKERS’ COMPUTERS AND CYBERSLACKING

A comprehensive solution for effective monitoring of workers’ activity on company computers are keyloggers and spyloggers – devices and software for recording text and image. They are not detectable by antivirus software, do not slow down computers and enable efficient spying on workers.

Keyloggers, also called keygrabbers, are installed by simply plugging in between an USB port or PS/2 and a keyboard. Logging every key stroke, storing each visited website and recording every conversation commences automatically. You need to define and e-mail address on which log reports are to be sent. Some keygrabbers, like VideoGhost, enable taking screenshots from a worker’s computer.

More features concerning spying on workers using company computers are available in SpyLogger – spy computer software. This software is installed using a pen drive. Similarly to keyloggers, person installing the software configures its settings, i.e. provides an e-mail address for sending reports.

Main advantages of SpyLogger:

  • social media monitoring
  • e-mail control
  • checking browsing history
  • analysing order of opened apps, windows, inserted pen drives and CDs, transferred data, etc.
  • listening in on a worker’s surroundings thanks to an additional or built-in microphone

Spy software for monitoring employee’s computer may be installed from a pen drive.

Thanks to reports sent by a SpyLogger or keyloggers an employer receives information concerning which websites their staff visits at work (and if they are vital for conducting work duties), whether they share confidential company data with friends or talk about their employer with disapproval on Facebook, work for a competitive company or a different employer during work hours, download illegal materials from the web, what files are stored on their computers and more.

Nowadays, employees are often equipped with cell phones with internet access. Although these should be used only for business contacts, they are often treated as private phones. Fortunately, there is a solution, similar to SpyLogger, allowing for monitoring workers’ company phones.

SPYING ON WORKERS’ COMPANY PHONES AND CYBERSLACKING

Workers using company phones can also be monitored outside of the office. This solution is dedicated to persons working mainly off site. Although they don’t spend as much time in front of a computer as a common office worker, it doesn’t mean that they are not affected with cyberslacking.

Spying on a company smartphone is possible thanks to SpyPhone – phone surveillance software that records, among other things:

  • current location of a worker
  • received and sent SMS and MMS
  • media files (photos, films)
  • conversation history
  • messages sent via instant messengers
  • both sides of a phone conversation and ambient sounds
If you want to monitor your worker’s behaviour during business trips or fieldwork, you can also invest in a GPS tracker for company vehicles.

FIELDWORK AND CYBERSLACKING

Before computers were used on a big scale in companies, workers had their ways of dodging work.

Today, they continue to do so even without company computers. Field workers (like sales representatives) may take care of private business, exposing their employees to higher costs of using a company car.

GPS MT90 Server car tracker

GPS tracker installed in a company car allows for monitoring:

  • routes
  • parking locations
  • ambient sounds

Moreover, a GPS tracker have a safe zone feature, where you can set boarders for a company car, that it should not cross. If it’s crossed (e.g. to take care of private business), an employer will be notified via an SMS or e-mail.

The routes archive enables analysis showing if the staff choose the most optimal routes or go off-road, what may be a proof that a company vehicle was used for not work-related matters.

Monitoring of a company car is necessary, dishonest employees not only waste time that should be spent on work but also fuel.

Software for monitoring company computers or phones and GPS trackers hidden in company vehicles constitute a comprehensive monitoring system. In case of cyberslacking, as the employer you can react instantly by having a serious conversation with your staff and the spying tools presented above give you irrefutable proofs of their misconduct.