Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
June 2, 2008
I Respect Your Privacy,
But It Doesnít Exist Here
Regular readers of this column know that Iím not big on privacy. I canít
even guarantee that Iím not spying on you right now. Iím probably not.
But you never know.
Bosses have the right to do a lot of spying, and it never ceases to
amaze me how poorly employees understand this. Just a few examples for
you to ponder:
You know that instant message account of yours? Actually thatís an
instant message account of mine. My computer. My internet connection.
Mine mine mine. You know the forum for Silver Spoons fans, where
you have an account through which you post an average of 45 messages a
day about Ricky Schroeder? What would the other six Silver Spoons
fans do all day without you to talk to?
Yeah, well, actually thatís my account. I think youíve made your
point by now that
Freddy Lippencottleman was the coolest character ever on the show, but I
donít think youíre ever going to convince BatemanBabe or Ricky=HotBod to
agree with you. So in the meantime, maybe you could finish those reports
Iíve been waiting for!
This may surprise you, but I donít actually care if my employees do
stuff like this during the day. What I do care about is that they get
their work done. Everyone has different work styles, and some people
need to complete a task and then indulge in a few minutes of
mindlessness before returning to another task.
If you engage in the never-ending Ricky vs. Rick debate throughout the
day, but still do everything I expect you to do, fine by me.
But letís be clear about this: I am going to know about it. And you had
better believe I am going to know how youíre using the e-mail account
that belongs to me and is provided to you for the purposes of your doing
How will I know? By going into your office when youíre not there and
reading your e-mail, of course. Thatís not complicated.
Oh the questions that are going through your mind right now! How
could you be so disrespectful of your employeesí privacy? Donít you
trust them? Are you some sort of pervert?
Letís take them one by one.
do respect their privacy. Itís just that their privacy doesnít
happen to exist here at the office. I donít go to their homes unless Iím
invited. I donít look through their cars. I donít look through their
coats. Those are theirs.
But I look at whatís on their computers and whatís in their desks. Those
do trust them, but trust has nothing to do with it. There is no
pretext of anything being secret here. I want to know whatís going on
within my company, so I look. Your big night out with your friend Lenora
sounded awfully boring to me. And from the sounds of that guy, I
wouldnít go out with him if I were you, no matter what your friend
Samantha tells you to do.
But Iím glad to see you came up with a good idea for the bank client, so
weíre good here. Now, your co-worker whoís been using the e-mail account
I provided to schedule job interviews? I donít even object to that, to
be honest, but I do object to her telling a friend who works for a
competitor about a problem we had with an account last week.
What was the other question? Am I some sort of pervert? Iím sorry. That
question is too vague.
Right now, many of you privacy fetishists are surely appalled at what
youíre reading, so let me tell you the difference between me and all the
gloriously wonderful employers who donít read their employeesí
e-mails after the employees leave the office.
© 2008 North Star
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