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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blogging - Not on Company Time?

I saw a post by Dan Roddy - Do you have a blogging policy?

As part of an interview for a new job, he got into a discussion with his potential new employer of their policy was around blogging.
Their response was; if it helps you and you don't give away any secrets, and don't do it in company time, then that would be okay.
The part I find interesting is "don't do it on company time" ... What if it helps the company? What if I'm using blogging as part of my Information Radar? What if I need help from my learning network on a particular work challenge that I can ask without revealing any secrets?

I've blogged before about Corporate Social Media Policies and Corporate Policies on Web 2.0 and my general sense has been that corporate policy would be that it would be okay to blog on company time if you are doing it to help you with your work activities. Am I wrong on this?

Likely there is some balance here and everyone should pay attention to that balance. But making a blanket statement - "Not on company time" seems a bit farther than the policy should be.

11 comments:

Terrence Wing said...

I agree with you. There were companies I worked for in the distant past who didn't allow internet access to their employees. Hopefully they have changed today. Like most tech, it will take time for some companies to see the value and then it will be as common as email (or even replace it).

Kevin Jones said...

A lot of this has been going around in my head as of late. In our podcast (http://www.box.net/shared/anl7j5g4nc) Dave and I talked about this very subject.

It will take a while before 'we' realize that blogging is a great way to reflect, connect, communicate, coach and learn and allow this to happen on company time. Blogging is obviously still seen as a time waster.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Teresa Tayag: Trainer, Speaker, Public Speaking Coach said...

You are right. There were so many times that posts from other parties have helped me with my work. If the company doesn't allow it, of course, one needs to abide by that. In my own work, I find so many tips and answers to questions from various blogs. I think it enhances productivity because you can get good work going at the tip of your fingertips.
I am often amazed at the speed of information that our e-networks provide. I see my daughter and her friends resolve problems, exchange ideas, and create meaningful work in a fraction of the time that we used to. This is a tool that cannot be ignored.

Dave Ferguson said...

The U.S. first amendment means the government can't restrict speech. Employers can and do impost restrictions of all sorts. If you accept employment with Quigley Plumbing and Web Design, you accept those--e.g., by default, what you produce on your job belongs to your employer, not you. Almost certainly you are bound by the company's policy with regard to preserving trade secrets, avoiding anticompetitive activity like price-fixing, and so on.

I wonder whether "not on company time" is one person's way of saying, "your priority at work should be work." Certainly many people produce better results because of what they learn from and with their networks. That was true when networking meant "being physically present at meetings and conferences"--but not many people had job descriptions that said "spend an average of 10 hours a week at industry meetings and conferences."

I really like the way one commenter manages this: he blogs, his boss reads the blog. Each knows what the other's doing.

As an example of what not to do (a bit tangential to employment, but not completely without value): a medical expert, testifying for the defendant in a court case, was blogging about the case, the jurors, the judge, and the physical appearance of the plaintiff's attorney.

The court (and the media) learned this when the plaintiff's attorney asked the expert about the blog. The defendant settled out of court the next day. (Summary on my blog.)

bill7tx said...

Maybe a better policy would be:

1. Your work comes first.
2. Don't be stupid.
3. After that, you're on your own.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tony

It is a matter of attitude but there are other things to consider too. The same question can be asked about phone calls an employee makes during company time. It comes down to Codes of Ethics and downright professionalism.

I access blogs in company time.

Last year I put in a report that I could not access some of the images on my blog from my work PC. I had flicked a link round the staff on a post I'd published relevant to kids and cybersafety and found the images were inaccessible.

The matter was looked at and fixed with the rider that 'they' had found that my blog posts were to do with education, learning and elearning. I took from this that had my blog been about unrelated things there may have been words said. So my blog is obviously being monitored. That's okay. Further to this, I am also aware that the Ministry of Education monitors my blog. So? I know of many bloggers all over the world who do the same.

I also frequently point to material on other blogs and send these in links round the staff in the workplace. This is always appreciated by staff at all levels for it's current, relevant and is really what every teacher should be reading about in some form or other anyway.

I do this in company time.

When I look for material for my students (often on the web - less frequently, but not exclusively, from blogs) I invariably do it in company time. This is for the reason that it's simply relevant to my job as a teacher and it is appropriate and timely for me to do it in company time.

I think that education authorities today would have a hard job arguing against accessing blogs (or the web) in company time the way I have described here.

One last thing though. I don't write blog posts, nor do I publish them in company time. I wouldn't be able to have the head-space to do that anyway - far too busy. I plan them on the bus going home - see my last post.

Catchya later

Downes said...

Th whole "not on company time" argument flies only if the company agrees that it has no claims over your personal time.

But if you do work on your own time that benefits the company (or if your contract says things like, "if you develop on your own time, it belongs to the company" then the company has no business saying you can't do personal things on company time.

Georgiy Ratomskiy said...

Mr.Karrer i agree with you. But i think it's a temporary phenomena in organizational culture. Maybe in a year or two some things will change and blogging become ordinary thing in most companies around the world.

Manish Mohan said...

Also depends on what one is blogging about. If the blog does not have anything related to work, or is a personal rant blog, it probably should be done at a time that doesn't affect the work to be completed. If the person's blogging is related to work and helps the company, then the person should make attempts to educate the supervisor.

Blogging is a great tool to reflect and connect with peers. Yeah, but like Bill puts it, "Don't be stupid".

Gary Wise said...

From somewhere in my past I recall an observation made by a colleague that the IBM CEO walked through his work environment and witnessed people hanging out around the coffee room. His reaction was to require people to return to their cubicles and "get back to work". Brilliant! Take away the ability to collaborate and so much more "work" will be accomplished. Long live Learning & Web 2.0+. See you at the coffee machine!
G.

Scott Hewitt said...

I'd imagine that the response may well depend on the industry that you are working in?

Personally I think it would be great to have more employees who would like to blog, innovate and communicate. There is a seperate debate about what people can and can't talk/type about on company blogs.