FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When Company Time and Personal Time Collide

If you're reading this at work, you might be putting your job at risk. Or not.

Recently, a New York City administrative law judge declined to support the city's Department of Education to fire an employee for surfing the Web on company time. "It should be observed," Judge John B. Spooner wrote, "that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work."

This case further highlights the growing ambiguity of what constitutes "company time" or a "work day." In today's always-on business world, many knowledge workers work after hours, whether at home or on the road. Employers don't complain about that -- and in some cases it's an expectation -- so why should they quibble if workers use time during the workday for personal tasks? Progressive, enlightened employers don't, recognizing the increased blurring of the work and personal spaces. Adding fuel to the controversy are studies suggesting that employees who work from home spend almost twice as much time using the Internet for work use after hours than using it for personal use during work hours.

Ultimately, we may move toward a work model in which much employee pay is based on output of work, rather than hours spent or the "bucket" in which those hours are contained.

Source: Washington Post

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