Cyberslacking and the protection of company resources and personal data


Do not take a coffee, lunch or cigarette break, and Facebook, Allegro or Pudelek are today among the most common causes of poor performance of employees in companies. Cyberslacking - as the phenomenon is commonly called - is responsible for the ubiquitous reduction in efficiency in companies. The data from the Central Statistical Office show that as many as 95% of enterprises have permanent access to the Internet, while only half of them decided to block the most popular "entertainment" Internet portals. The use of the Internet by employees for private purposes during working hours is a threat to the company not only due to a decrease in productivity, but also due to the fact that careless employees may lead to data leakage or disclosure of business secrets.

Given the above, it is not surprising that cyberslacking is an increasingly common cause of employment relationship dissolution. Practicing cyber-laziness may even be subject to disciplinary dismissal, which may have negative consequences for the future career of an unreliable employee. The above-mentioned internal corporate liability of the employee should not be compared with the damage that the entrepreneur may notice as a result of the discussed practice. Loss of personal data or trade secrets may expose the company to high administrative penalties, loss of customer trust or loss of market position. All of this is directly associated with enormous financial detriment. Therefore, instead of punishing employees after the fact, the entrepreneur should think about how to counteract the negative phenomenon of cyberslacking in advance.

What exactly is cyberslacking?

Cyberslacking is the activity of the company's employees using Internet access at the workplace for private purposes. It can be browsing social networks (Facebook, Instagram), shopping online, using a private virtual mailbox or playing the so-called browser games. To put it simply, cyber-laziness means that an employee devotes the time devoted to performing employee duties to dealing with personal matters.

The emergence of cyberslacking is, of course, associated with easy access to the Internet. In reality, however, the phenomenon is more complex. In addition to the above, important is also the growing dependence on social networks or online shopping, the lack of motivation to work, its constant repetition or boring nature. As it is easy to see, not only employees are to blame for the problem in question, but also employers or powerful corporations that make society dependent on their network products.

Is cyberslacking a negative phenomenon on the labor market?

The answer in this case is obvious and unambiguous. Cyberslacking is a very serious problem. During working hours, personnel must perform their duties conscientiously and accurately. The employees are obliged to do so by an agreement with the employer, and what's more - they receive remuneration for it. Therefore, any manifestation of undisciplined and arbitrary workforce may be associated with serious consequences.

The first and fastest tangible effect of cyber-laziness is certainly the decline in employee productivity. The mere fact of spending a long time surfing on social and gossip websites translates into shorter real work time. Moreover, cyberslacking causes subsequent distraction. Continuing to work after a long "relaxing" while browsing the web is no longer so effective - focusing and quieting down again is difficult and takes time, which can be almost impossible with an eight-hour working day.

Cyberslacking can directly translate into a strain on the company's image and loss of customers. Employees abusing the Internet for private purposes are more prone to disregard customer needs. They don't have time to make proper contact with him, and if they do, they do it in a laconic and casual way. Over time, neglected customers and contractors can form negative opinions about the company and spread them in their environment and on internet forums. It should be remembered that bad reviews hitting the web will probably never disappear again.

In addition to the misuse of paid working time and a decline in business productivity, cyber-laziness can be far more dangerous. Employees expose corporate equipment to malware infection by logging into unknown and unsecured websites and browsing them. The recklessness of an employee can significantly facilitate hackers to steal personal data of customers, contractors and staff of the company - and as you know, the GDPR very severely punishes such "mishaps". By using social networks, e.g. when taking a photo of himself, an employee may also inadvertently photograph company documents that should never fall into the wrong hands. People who use instant messaging also tend to forget about the consequences of reckless correspondence. Then it is easy to reveal the secrets of the company to the other party. The problem may also be that the employees download files protected by copyright, which in the event of an inspection will be the burden of the employer. It should be borne in mind that in most companies computer equipment is connected to one network, and thus, infecting one device may mean infection of the entire enterprise network.

How can an employer fight cyberslacking?

Before taking radical and highly painful steps for employees, the employer should try to make the team aware of the dangers for the company of using the Internet while working for private purposes. What's more, it should also make it clear that browsing social networking sites, shopping online or playing browser games while working is not welcome and in extreme cases may result in dismissal with an indication of the reason for terminating the contract in the employment certificate.

It also seems reasonable to organize employee training, during which the staff will learn about the dangers of irresponsible use of the Internet at work. Such training will certainly also have a positive impact on improving the condition, efficiency and caution of employees when using the network both for business and private purposes. Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

The next step should be the preparation of regulations, which will describe the procedure for dealing with company devices (applies to both computers and tablets or smartphones). The said regulations should, first of all, contain the rules of dealing with the equipment in the enterprise, i.e. indicate the extent to which employees should use the devices for business purposes. Such rules should, inter alia, prohibit the use of computers and business phones for private purposes, e.g. by prohibiting browsing entertainment websites, installing non-work-related applications, sharing devices with third parties or using Wi-Fi to download files from an unknown source.

If the above-mentioned activities do not bring the expected result, then the employer should apply much more direct protective measures - independent of the good will of the employees.

Initially, the employer should commission an inventory of authorized and unauthorized devices and applications. It is impossible to protect the network against the unwanted actions of employees and third parties, until you know exactly what equipment works in it and what websites or applications the company staff uses. Failure to thoroughly analyze this issue will increase the likelihood of running malware on company computers that can steal sensitive company data.

Then, you should order the encryption of work devices and the installation of anti-virus software on them, which will be responsible for reducing the risk of infecting a given device with malware.

Additionally, in order to be able to directly counteract cyberslacking, the company has the option of installing monitoring of employees' activities on the Internet. It allows you to determine which websites and applications on employees' computers are used most often, including for private purposes. Such a procedure will limit access to them. When it comes to monitoring the behavior of employees, special care should be taken, as it is very easy to cross the border of legality. In such a case, it seems indispensable to notify employees in advance of planned monitoring activities.

Cyberslacking - summary

In the present state system, everyone has the right to choose a workplace, and no one can force anyone to do it. Therefore, when deciding to enter into an employment relationship, everyone should carry out the tasks entrusted to them with the required diligence throughout its duration. It is known that no one is able to be as productive as possible for 8 or 12 hours of his shift, therefore a few-minute breaks for coffee or a cigarette should not be punished too much by the employer. The situation changes, however, when employees surf the Internet for an average of 2 hours a day instead of performing their duties. Such behavior justifies employers' decisions limiting or preventing the use of websites on work equipment that are not related to the tasks entrusted to employees. At the same time, the employer should exercise healthy moderation, because too limited employees may completely lose their willingness to work, which at the same time will significantly worsen the efficiency of the entire company.