Identifying workplace etiquette is a lot more confusing nowadays than it was ever in the past. Although we all probably know what constitutes good etiquette while working with other people, we may not see how the lines may get blurred when we take into consideration all that technology has to offer and how that may play into what can be seen as rude, inconsiderate, or unprofessional behavior by management and co-workers.
One of the first things you should do at the start of your internship is to find what the company’s policies and procedures are when it comes to the internet and electronic devices. Unlike college, many companies monitor internet use and strongly frown on using personal devices during work hours.
Since you are supposed to be working during company hours, companies have every right to monitor your internet use and check your company email. Since students are not used to being monitored, many feel that it’s a violation of their privacy to have employers who place strict controls during their time on the job.
What Do Employers Expect?
It’s best to be diligent up front rather than be identified for violating company policy when you log onto unauthorized sites or programs. Of course, each work environment sets its own rules regarding personal time and employees use of technology.
Companies who make a practice of letting interns and new employees know their policies prior to starting employment usually have the fewest problems, but it is the employee's responsibility to find out about these policies beforehand since they may be spelled out in fine print on any forms or contracts completed as a condition of employment.
What Is Considered Professional Behavior?
Being professional on the job is easy to recognize when it comes to dress code or getting to work on time, but can become blurred when new rules are set that have not been encountered before starting a professional job. When you think of it, most students are pretty lucky as to the freedom they experience as a college student.
Look on any college campus and you will encounter students who are constantly using their cell phones. In addition, checking out websites for personal and college use is expected along with the ability to email anyone that you wish to be in contact with even if it’s during class. Remember that not all companies are alike but the following tips should help you stay out of trouble in your new internship or job.
- Be prompt in responding to all company email while on the job. Managers may wonder what you’re doing if it takes a day or two for you to respond to important emails. If you are working on finding an answer before answering an email, it may be wise to let the person know this so that they don’t think that you’re not responding or that you didn’t receive the email in the first place.
- Make it a point to find out your company’s policies and procedures when it comes to what is expected of its employees. You can check with the company’s Human Resources Office which should be able to provide you with the necessary information. If not, check with your supervisor or check out the company’s website. It’s easiest to do this at the beginning of employment to avoid any embarrassing moments.
- Be mindful that any communications you send via email may be monitored by the company. Never send personal messages via company email. Your email history may be periodically checked and this can adversely affect you on the job. It’s best to have a personal email account and use that for personal use while leaving your business account for all company email only.
- Some companies have strict policies on what employees may download on computers at work. Don’t make the mistake of web surfing on the job because this could end up causing you to lose a job even though you may feel that you are not doing anything wrong.
- Be mindful of what you post on social networking sites. It may not be a good idea to boast about getting drunk at last night’s party. Once you have a full-time job you are not only representing yourself, but you are also representing your company. Imagine having someone managing your hard earned money only to find that they are frequently engaging in immature and irresponsible behavior.
- If you accidentally log onto a site that’s prohibited, log off, and report it to the appropriate person such as the IT Department or your manager.
- Find out the companies policy on personal phone calls and personal cell phone use. Policies vary and can be anything from no personal phone calls while working to keeping personal phone calls to a minimum and use only when absolutely necessary.
These tips may seem like no-brainers but can be easily overlooked by new professionals who have never encountered in the past monitoring of their personal use of technology and electronic devices.