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Author Topic: Networking instead of working  (Read 9356 times)
Brighton Rock
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« on: January 27, 2012, 11:50:19 am »

I'm not at work today, but am pondering (just for a little while) a small problem. 

In my new role I have a full-time PA to support me, and also someone else as a "long-term temp", recruited from within the company.  The purpose of the latter role is to provide us with extra assistance whilst we set up my new office and restructure the company and then she will return to her original role.  My relationship with my PA is just fine.  She enthusiastic, cheerful, obliging and competent.  It's a joy to work with her. 

What concerns me is this: it has come to my attention that my long-term temp, let's call her "Jane" for the moment, spends a lot of work time on the internet what I would charitably describe as "networking".  Going onto a site such as deskdemon is fine up to a point, whether it is to find information, have a little recreation or to assist someone else, but not twenty times a day in work time.  Jane is pleasant to work with, but I think that this activity needs tempering a little.  We have a substantial and challenging workload, so a colleague who isn't pulling their weight is not much use to me.

What would you do in these circumstances? 

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gee4
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2012, 12:06:45 pm »

I usually only visit DD when I have time to spare and do any other "surfing" at lunchtime, but most sites are blocked by IT unless they are work-related.

I would monitor it for a while, take a note of the sites visited, how long she spends on these sites and then have a quiet word.  You could use it as an excuse to see how she is getting on and give her some feedback on her standard of work, then bring it up as a last point.

Ask yourself - is she getting her work done, or is she falling behind?  Personally speaking, if you are busy, work comes first.
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Atlanta Z3
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2012, 03:50:31 pm »

If Jane has that much spare time I would find more projects for her.  If work is not being completed then it is an issue and needs to be addressed.  I think we all surf some at work but work has to come first.  As a last resort you could have IT disable internet except for a few relevant sites. 
You could also just let it ride, but give a hint to her manager that you weren't quite satisfied with her work.  Is she a contracted temp or an internal temp?
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msmarieh
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2012, 04:13:19 pm »

It sounds like Jane reports to you for this period of time? If so, you should certainly sit down and have a conversation with her to remind her that the company does not encourage excessive personal use of the computer.

I agree with Atlanta's comments to find her additional projects to do. It is quite possible that she is bored with her work and not proactive about seeking new work.
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Brighton Rock
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2012, 04:27:03 pm »

Thank you so much for all your replies.

Jane is an internal "temp".  We have embarked on a major restructuring of the company, which will take up to five years to complete.  We're setting up a Charitable Foundation, which involves splitting a whole section of the company from the major portion.  That's where I come in - I'm "the splitter" in many ways in charge of logistics and administration for this project. 

Because of the nature of our work, it is quite hard, if not impossible, to recruit someone who will instantly know everything there is to know about our company, its history, strategy and future goals.  So, when things like this come up, we like to use someone from the established workforce and recruit a "real" temp for a much more easy-to-pick-up role. 

Our computer use is monitored now, so I have good evidence to show Jane's footprints all over the internet.  It is my responsibility, in the first instance, to manage her performance.  Whilst this matter was drawn to my attention just yesterday, it has been going on since the beginning of the year.  However, it is only since the start of the year that our electronic traffic has been monitored, so I expect that is why this hasn't been picked up until now. 

The work we are doing is complex and plentiful, but I have broken it down into interesting chunks. 

I think a little chat is on the agenda next week to remind her of the company's computer use policy, potential consequences of her actions, and what we require her to do.  And then I will listen to her side of things, and make a decision based on that.
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Brighton Rock
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 11:43:29 am »

Just an update: we've had our little chat. 

It seems that Jane has been getting away with it for some considerable time.   Well, not in my office and not with me.  She was rather surprised to have this matter drawn to her attention. 

I wouldn't have minded quite so much had it not been very clear that the visits to certain professional websites were, shall we say, unhelpful.  But then, I've never tolerated rudeness, spite, one-upmanship, cyber-bullying, or any sort of posturing whether it is in my office on any forum I've been on.  It's all too easy to clothe oneself in the anonymity of the web and get away with all sorts of stupidities.  Jane is very clear now about the standards of professionalism, courtesy and simple kindness that I expect from her and I doubt whether she will be idling away or making other people's lives unpleasant again. 

I think she realises now that she has a fabulous opportunity, with the projects I am undertaking, to gain some more experience at a higher level and to sharpen up her business practice.   There's a job on offer at the end of this year if she wishes to apply for it. 

Time for a cup of tea and then a meeting with our CEO.

Have a great day now, everyone.

Best wishes,

Brighton Rock

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gee4
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 01:19:08 pm »

I'm surprised she had open access to the internet AND the sites you now know she visited.

Anywhere I have worked restrictions have been put in place to prevent employees from "surfing" during working hours or having access to websites that are not work-related.
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Jackie G
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 01:38:18 pm »

Brighton, glad your chat cleared the air and opened eyes!  Will be interesting to see if 'Jane' decides to toe the line.

Gee, with the exception of social networking sites and anything related to them on other sites, we have clear access during all parts of the day here - sometimes it's needed in the course of the job to find out something and we don't use paper directories / journals whathaveyou to the extent than in the past so the internet is our one stop shop for everything needed.  That said, we are not allowed to spend work time surfing unless it's for work - eg I do food shopping for our Board meetings online and am therefore allowed to sit on a certain supermarket website during the day, same with a certain site that sells anything and everything as my boss frequently has me buy books for him.
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gee4
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 01:43:16 pm »

I know Jackie, but if the internet is not required to do a job, you are not granted access.

Never heard of any temps having access to the internet unless of course they become permanent members of staff.
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Brighton Rock
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 02:56:44 pm »

For the avoidance of doubt, although I would refer you to my first post in this thread for clarification, Jane is not a "temp" in the usual sense of the word; she is seconded from her permanent job to assist me in my new role for a certain period of time.   

Because of the nature of our work, we have to have open access, although certain measures are in place to filter out the possibility of inappropriate websites being accessed.  We have a clear, written, policy about computer use which every member of staff receives - permanent or temporary - on the first day of employment.  We also trust people to behave like adults - trust is the key word. 

However our computer use is monitored for all sorts of operational reasons,  but the result is that we do know who is doing what and when ("we" being HR).  Every company has its own policies, according to what works for them, Gee.  This is the very first occasion, in my 13 years with my company, that this issue has ever arisen, which is fairly good going. 

It was brought to my attention; I have dealt with it and I consider it to be at an end. 
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gee4
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 03:09:33 pm »

Well your temp either has little to do or does her work quickly.  I guess now you've had your chat she knows where she stands.

Curious as to what age she is - that too can be a contributing factor to work eithic.
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countrigal
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2012, 06:28:50 pm »

Brighton Rock, I applaud you on how you handled that situation.  It appears that you addressed it appropriately, "educating" the employee on the policy and allowing her to know that it is now a monitored and tracked item, not just some blanket statement made during hiring procedures and given lip service perhaps annually with no backbone or way to implement it.  By also pointing out the benefits that she has the potential to gain from this position, you were able to provide a positive to the meeting and perhaps reset her eyes on the goal.  Great job!  Now I can only hope that it has worked.

As for internet usage... most companies that I've been around have an open internet, with only a few blocked sites, generally due to inappropriate content for a workplace.  I found it humorous when I worked at the hospital and tried to access a medical site and it was blocked -- when I asked why, we discovered it was because it showed human sexual organs.  Ummm... yeah.... it's a medical site!  Luckily, IT unblocked that site after realizing the error.  Smiley  However, all the companies I've worked for have had a policy that states that you may use the internet but not abuse it, with limitations, and with where I work now, we have such production standards that it's very hard to find much time to get online at all, much less all the time.  If you do, then you're not making your set number of widgets a day, with the required quality in that production, and then it becomes an employment issue, because we're hired to produce so many widgets a day with a set quality, and if we aren't, we can be fired.  So... I only pop in here every now and then, and only when I'm ahead on production.   Wink
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gee4
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2012, 09:10:31 pm »

My guess is this person was just not focussed or clear on her duties.

Given she is/was an "internal temp", she should have been provided with work that would hold her attention and keep her mind on the job...clear directive and an achievable deadline.
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countrigal
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2012, 09:34:07 pm »

Gee, now you're comparing apples and oranges.  BR specifically stated that this was an ongoing, continuous problem, not the once-in-a-while temporary lapse that was being discussed in the other thread.  This person had a substantial and challenging workload, but simply was not doing that work, daily.  That is not like someone who has something going on that has grabbed their focus temporarily and who is still trying to get the work done, working through and around this lapse.
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gee4
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2012, 09:45:53 pm »

Ongoing or not I can see now this person had little to occupy her and keep her focused in the way work should.

It's diferent if she got through her work quickly and was waiting on the next job, that too could have been part of the problem.

I found that many times while temping.  People thought the work they gave me would last a day yet I got through it maybe in an hour, maybe a morning.
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