As technology continues to play a bigger role in our professional lives, we’re seeing a greater need for companies to have a clear technology policy. This protects your business in several ways, but you have to be careful to respect the privacy of your employees at the same time.
It can be a delicate balance—and laws regarding technology are always changing—so we have a few suggestions to consider when crafting your own technology policy. The core of the policy is your Use Guidelines, which should include the following information:
- All technology provided by the company is property of the company and is to be used primarily (or exclusively) for business purposes.
- Employees are not allowed to use company communications (emails, texts, phone calls, etc.) to communicate or store content that is harassing, defamatory, pornographic, discriminatory, or otherwise illegal in any way.
- Copyrighted work is not allowed on the company network or company devices without consent from the copyright holder.
- The network may not be used to disrupt business. This includes sending excessive emails or quantities of information.
- Downloaded files should be screened to prevent viruses. Plugins should only be downloaded and installed with permission from the IT department.
- Employees are not allowed to misrepresent or hide their identity in any way when using electronic communications. A corporate identity should be included on all outgoing communications.
- Communication using company equipment is property of the company. The company has the right to review and monitor these communications, including internet use. This applies even if equipment is offsite.
- Emails, texts, phone calls, etc., may be reviewed for legal reasons. Employees should always remember this when communicating both internally and externally.
Be sure your technology policy is transparent about the company’s right to monitor electronic devices and communications, and that it explains the consequences of violating the policy. Consequences could mean anything from restricting the use of company devices to immediate termination and legal action.
It’s important to make it clear to your employees that private devices not purchased by the company are not subject to the same rules as company-owned devices. Although, as a recent example at the White House has shown, these devices can still be searched for two reasons: if the employer has “reasonable cause” to investigate a crime or company violation, or if the employer has policies that minimize the expectation of privacy. These laws still include some gray areas, so it’s important to stay updated with legislation as it happens.
Keep in mind that the information above should just be used as a guide—you should have an HR or legal professional review the language of your company’s technology policy. And if you have any questions about creating these types of polices or anything related to human resources, be sure to contact us.