Surfing At Work

Q: I have a high-speed Internet connection at work and want to surf the Web, but I’m nervous about getting in trouble. What should I do?
–H. Dawson, Brownsville, Texas

A: Before you start roaming around in cyberspace on your company’s high-speed connection, you should first find out what your company’s policy on Internet use is. Some companies allow employees to surf the Web on breaks or after hours, as long as employees don’t visit inappropriate sites (for example, gambling sites or those that feature sexual or other offensive content).

Most employers recognize that it’s important for employees to achieve a certain “comfort level” with technology, so they don’t mind if you’re paying bills on your lunch break, checking breaking news on CNN, or playing a quick round of Jeopardy.

But some companies have strict policies and closely monitor their employees’ Internet use. When the U.S. Treasury Department secretly monitored IRS employees’ use of the Internet, it found that personal e-mail, online chats, shopping, and checking personal finances and stocks accounted for 51% of employees’ time spent online.

So if your Jeopardy game ties up the T1, or you’re using the connection to, say, download images of Traci Bingham, you could be in a world of trouble. Your best bet is to invest in your own home setup.

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