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San Diego Desi  »  Articles
When your Boss finds you browsing at work!
By: SivaKumar Nadarajah
Viewed: 13092
comment belowpost article
More and more employers are taking workers' Web use seriously, found a recent study.

According to the American Management Association, 78 percent of large U.S. employers are regularly checking workers' e-mail messages, Internet use, computer files and phone calls. Nearly half of such employers store employee e-mail messages for review. The AMA also found that 65 percent of enterprises had disciplined employees for misuse of e-mail or the Internet at work, and 27 percent had actually fired someone over such offenses.

The issue of IT surveillance was driven home last month when and America Online released a survey of 10,000 American workers, many of whom admitted that goofing off on the Internet was their primary method of frittering away the workday. It turns out personal Internet time makes up the bulk of the 2 hours the average employee admits wasting each day.

Not a surprise, right?

If I get a chance to sneak into one of my Desi friends work day, I could definitely find him visiting one of the Indian portals or reading a latest Bollywood movie review, or most probably spending time at one of the Cricket sites, checking scores. Or if he was a so-called ?Smart? Desi, I?d find him day-trading at one of the online broker sites. But the questions is, how much time do we spend ( or rather waste) browsing at work and how much it impacts our productivity every day?

Of course browsing helps my day, for sure. I Google every question that comes up to me. I?d rather search Google than searching my drawer for a piece of paper. But when I take a deep breadth and think about it, this damn Internet has consumed me , changed my habits, and most obviously changed my personality. I spend less time with my friends at work, I?ve become lazy to get up and walk up to the next cube to discuss a problem, I?ve become Internet centric, and on top of everything I don? t realize someone is watching my activities.

While bosses can easily detect and interrupt water-cooler chatter, the employee who is shopping at Amazon or eBay may actually appear to be working. Thwarting the activity is a technology challenge, and it's one that more and more enterprises are taking seriously, despite resistance from privacy advocates and some employees themselves.

So how do employees feel about being watched while they are on the clock? For most, it's a matter of consent.
According to a recent poll of workers in technology-related fields published by the executive recruiting company FPC, 61 percent said they felt their bosses had the right to cyber-spy on them, but only with consent. Just 28 percent felt IT had the right to monitor their activity without consent, and only 1 percent said an employer never has the right to monitor Internet use.

Desi techies obviously take things for granted. When they feel that they are doing their job well and delivering things on time, they most probably won?t feel guilty about browsing at work. What they don?t understand is browsing unacceptable hours could come and haunt them anytime. Most likely, when things don?t go right or when there is a planned head count reduction ( a.k a. Lay off), your internet and email activity report may pop up as a deciding factor.

Here are couple of things I noticed when I became extremely concerned about wasting time at work browsing Internet. You could take this as an advice or simply ignore as a ?Fanda? from a Desi dude.

Internet is addictive, and most probably will make you browse again and again just like a chain smoker who would need a brake every half an hour at work. If you are a Desi consultant working at a client site, be careful. Things could become extremely nasty if your client finds out that you spend a lot of time on the Internet. Remember, although your body-shop pays you a monthly salary, they bill the client hourly. Every minute you spend browsing could become accountable if things were brought up to the table.

Using company email for private use has so far been very acceptable. But there is a new daemon called SabOx that is floating around corporate governance, haunting employers and making them seriously responsible for information sensitivity. So if you are using your office email to send a ?sardar? or blonde joke, make sure you know what you are doing. Typically, forwarded emails may contain company sensitive discussions that you may innocently ignore reading, but could possibly boomerang back to you.

Then there is that phone. How many of you make long distance calls from work? Well possibly everyone. How many of you make India calls from work? May be not much. But if you do, sorry, you must be nuts. What ever it is, if you work for a publicly traded company, make sure you limit the number of private long distance calls you make from work. All you need is a federal investigation on company financials. You will be grilled soup to nuts about every activity that was recorded on your phone, email and Internet.

Not to scare you folks. Take these ?fandas? little seriously. One of my friends had to explain his excessive Internet usage at work to his supervisors. Although he spent most of his time on Microsoft Developer Network websites, He just couldn?t answer when they showed him he had also spent time on Samachar, Amazon, ebay and surprisingly considerable time on, too !! It will be really embarrassing if you are married and spent time on a dating website.

Then there are these stupid pop-ups at every Desi website that could embarrass you any moment. Citi-Bank tells you that you could transfer money for Free to India. BharatMatrimoney tells you there is a nice looking girl waiting for you in India, and another pop-up tells you to buy a property in Bangalore. Guess what your American colleguge or boss will think when all of these pop-up are up on your screen?

? I pay this guy to code, but all he does all the time is find ways to send money to India, buy a property, and find a girl to marry and settle down back home. No wonder Americans hate H-1B visas and Outsourcing?.

N.Sivakumar is the author of ?Dude, did I steal your job ? Debugging Indian Computer Programmers?. You can contact him at . Visit to learn more about his book. Opinions expressed in his columns are his own and not necessarily reflect the opinions of


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