Technology has changed the way we communicate, the way we inform ourselves and the way we do business. When people talk about technology in the workplace, the conversation often steers to social media but technology has a huge impact on how organisations manage employees across a whole spectrum of issues – not just social media.

Potential technology related issues can arise in the following areas in the workplace:

Communications: The increased use of email has had an impact on the frequency and tone of communications.

Mobility: Remote working is becoming the norm in many businesses and the lines between personal and work time are increasingly being blurred.

Cost: Access to the internet can create a distraction in the workplace and is documented with the term cyberslacking.

Social Media: Business usage has blurred the lines between what is personal and what is business-related

Privacy: One of the most contentious issues in an employment context is the monitoring of employees. Employees have fundamental rights to privacy protected by legislation, the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.  When is it appropriate to use CCTV to monitor employees? The answer is almost never.  When is it appropriate to read an employee’s personal emails? The answer is, again, almost never. 

Top Tips for Dealing with Technology Issues in the Workplace

  • Train employees to be mindful of the tone and content of their communications.
  • Ensure there is a policy and procedure in place for dealing with bullying, harassment and sexual harassment to include where such issues arise in a virtual sense.
  • Ensure confidential information and personal data are kept securely and there is adequate protection and encryption on mobile devices.
  • Ensure employees’ working time is being accurately captured and recorded and that employees are taking the requisite breaks.
  • Acceptable usage policies are vital in any organisation where employees have access to or use technology whether that is a mobile phone or the internet.  Most employers now allow some limited use of an organisation’s technology for personal purposes but it is important to be clear about what the organisation considers to be reasonable personal use.
  • It is absolutely vital that employers set some ground rules in relation to the use of social media.  What employee can and cannot share and who owns their work related contacts should be set out in an employer’s social media policy.
  • In this ever changing technological environment, employers need to keep all policies under constant review to ensure they remain relevant and up to date.  Employers also need to ensure policies are properly communicated to employees and that training is given, where appropriate.