Workplace issues (was RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing

Subject: Workplace issues (was RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:51:16 -0400

Edgar D' Souza [mailto:edgar -dot- b -dot- dsouza -at- gmail -dot- com]
> On Thu, Jul 17, 2008 at 8:13 PM, McLauchlan, Kevin
> <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:
> > As for Youtube... at work I just don't. We're at a branch office,
> > bandwidth hogs are vilified, if not pilloried.
> Well, I telecommute a couple of times a week (saves a lot on gas and
> other expenses!) and so I often wind up my evening checking out vid
> links posted on another list, which specializes in off-topic stuff -
> TechComm. Once I get onto YouTube (or Metacafe), though I wind up
> hitting vids for an hour or more - kinda addictive, especially if I
> can find the really funny stuff. And then I sometimes shut down in a
> hurry to head off for dinner, and omit to close those tabs...

Ahh. The joys - and otherwise - of using the same computer for work as
for play. Except for the past 2-1/2 weeks where I borrowed a company
laptop to work from home (post jaw surgery), my work and home computers
have been entirely separate things. Thus, I didn't have to worry about
some issues that confront people who carry a company laptop or who use
their own laptop (contractors, freelancers) to do company business.

It might seem that we've been perilously close to [OT] for the list, but
I'm thinking that these and other little foibles and gotchas might be
the beginnings of a 'new millennium', general-purpose, office-worker
guide. Perhaps a For Dummies book.
There are certain core principles and ethics and etiquette that apply to
almost anybody in the work world... Well, let me rephrase that....

There are certain core principles and ethics and etiquette that should
apply to (and be embraced by) _anybody_, and which have their own
special interpretation and emphasis when people go to work for each

Those might be refined even further when we narrow our focus to certain
industries or types of work (office work, versus construction work,
versus academia, versus <fill-in-the-blank>.

So, for example, we might accept a general rule-for-humanity that
everybody should be polite and respectful of everybody else (at least
until that becomes impossible or counter-productive - i.e., rare corner
cases), but depending on where you live and work, the mechanics of what
constitutes politeness and desirable behavior might vary, or take on
very different emphasis.

The changes brought about by technology have opened up new avenues and
situations that were not even contemplated (by anybody except futurists)
only twenty years ago.

Perhaps a group of people (even an existing one like the STC
lone-writers SIG ... are they still alive?), or a group from this list,
could kick around what's new-and-changed and what's still valid and
applicable and produce a set of guidelines and things-to-think-about for

Before we started this conversation, who would have thought that
something you do at home, on your own time, could - if you weren't
careful - affect your work for your company, or even the work of others
at the company, by inadvertently hogging bandwidth, slowing firewalls
and proxies, and so on ??

What other gotchas and ahas are lurking in the recent ways that we've
started to do business? Stuff that seems innocuous, but might be seen
as deleterious by employers ... or employees?

Some new phones use the cellular network for web browsing, texting and
other functions, but are also capable of latching onto the nearest
accessible wi-fi hotspot - which is attractive for people in backward
countries like Canada where the default cellular access is NOT unlimited
minutes. See recent stories of folks running up $20,000 (yes, that's
twenty thousand dollars) phone bills in just a couple of months because
the provider says "'unlimited' in our advertising doesn't _really_ mean
'unlimited'; you have to read the fine-print in our contracts".... but I

So, if your phone latches onto the office hotspot that's supposed to be
used by sales folks and project managers roaming the building with their
laptops and having meetings and work-related discussions all over, and
you use that to text and browse so it doesn't show on your
company-provided desktop computer, is that an ethical problem?

Or, if your company has a "use of company resources" policy that hasn't
been revised since 1991, and you and many of your colleagues find that
you can be much more productive by simply ignoring parts of that
policy... which ethical provision should carry:

- that you adhere to the policy as you promised when you were hired
- that you give your best efforts, during working hours, to furthering
the good of the company ??

For example, for a policy that says you can't use company computers or
networks to access that-there-interweb-thing during working hours, the
intent (way back when the policy was written) might not have been to
keep you from browsing porn sites. It might have been a security
concern... one that's no longer relevant. Or, it might have been to
keep you off porn sites and porn-related liability off of company
computers, but it also prevents you from using vast, legitimate
information resources on the web.

Or, the policy against installing and using any kind of remote-access
protocol on a company computer might similarly have originated in a
security concern; one that has since been obviated by technology (VPNs
and other secure tunneling protocols).

What about the old prohibition against carrying floppy disks and CDs off
the premises? It doesn't explicitly mention micro-SD cards and
$20-dollar 16GB USB sticks, but...

How about if you become aware that a cow-orker is breaching the letter
or the spirit of some old policy? Is the ethical thing to do to rat on
the cow-orker (yes I know how to spell co-worker, but cow-orker is more
fun) - loyalty to colleagues or to company?

If the company is racing to meet a deadline for a lucrative deal, and
you can help them achieve it by breaking a company rule or guideline
(not the law), which way should you swing? Rigid adherence and possibly
losing a deal and/or paying penalties, or the greater good of the
company (including bonuses for your co-workers and bosses)?

What's the best way to deal with somebody who, in every meeting they
attend must have questions repeated to them, because they've been
Blackberrying under the table, or because the laptop they have open to
follow the spreadsheet adjustments is being used for browsing and
answering e-mail?

What if YOU are that person, and have multiple, time-sensitive company
projects on the go, and your Blackberry twiddling or your e-mail
processing is much less disruptive to the meeting than you getting up to
go outside and take a critical call every five minutes. Should there be
policies for this kind of thing, or should it be worked out on a
case-by-case basis, or should it just be ignored and unspoken and
allowed to become a source of festering resentment by other meeting
attendees who feel they are being slighted and their own valuable time
wasted? But do you want to have to start every meeting by apologizing
in advance that you are going to have take calls or answer messages? Do
you want to have to sit through the start of every meeting where three
people out of seven attendees make such announcements?

What to do? Why? Where do you look for guidelines? Is Emily Post
(edition umpty-twelve) sufficiently up-to-date? Is it sufficiently
relevant? Or is there a better business-oriented guide? Is it good
enough for your industry or for our field (tech-writing)? Does it

I'll stop now. Maybe I've brought up some thinking/talking points, or
maybe I've caused innumerable pairs of eyes to glaze over and [Next]
buttons to be clicked. :-)


The information contained in this electronic mail transmission
may be privileged and confidential, and therefore, protected
from disclosure. If you have received this communication in
error, please notify us immediately by replying to this
message and deleting it from your computer without copying
or disclosing it.


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: Hemstreet, Deborah
Re: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: Edgar D' Souza
RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: Edgar D' Souza

Previous by Author: RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing
Next by Author: Consumer products RE: Value of basic computer science qualification?
Previous by Thread: Re: side-effect of tabbed browsing
Next by Thread: Re: Workplace issues (was RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads