Porn still the most common type of offensive material being sent around office computers

Below is another recent article from the ever excellent Sunday Herald in Australia. This piece highlights not only the issue of inappropriate image content on corporate email but the risk employees face if they don’t report their knowledge of its existence, even if they are the recipient!

The whole area seems to be lacking clearly communicated policies and technology to automate the process of protecting employees from their own behaviour.  For the benefit of all, the technology solutions to this escalating problem, which exist, are effective and are affordable need to be adopted more widely. Everyone involved would then benefit from safer working environments, less management time spent on mediation and improved productivity through effective policy communication and implementation. Image Analyzer offers image & video scanning technology which can manage these issues.

Failing to report people who send you inappropriate emails, including pornography, at work could get you fired, experts are warning.

Improper use of email and social media is behind many mediations occurring in workplaces, with people unaware of their employers’ policies or simply not thinking they will get caught.

Joydeep Hor, from management firm People & Culture Strategies, said porn was still the most common type of offensive material being sent around office computers. Rude emails that undermine the reputation of managers or co-workers and the accidental “reply all” email are also common problems.

“I just find it extraordinary people don’t think records are going to be kept and they’re not going to be caught out,” Mr Hor said.

“I often joke my favourite defence proffered by an individual in trouble for distributing porn is, ‘I don’t understand why I’m in trouble. I don’t discriminate against anyone. I sent the email to everyone I work with’.”

A NSW solicitor, who did not wish to be named, said he represented a man who was fired for receiving a pornographic email from a co-worker but failing to report it.

“This idiot started sending him emails,” he said. “He hadn’t looked at it and he deleted most of them, but he didn’t report it.”

The solicitor said the man received compensation after he sued for unfair dismissal, but did not get his job back. Jade Muir, a 30-year-old Perth business analyst, said she was disciplined for accidentally sending her boss an email intended for her secret office boyfriend.

“My then boyfriend and I were at the pub together and my boss drove by in a car,” Ms Muir recalled. “The next day I sent an email to him (the boyfriend) saying we should be careful not to be seen together and she (the boss) replied, ‘Was this meant for me?’

“I had to have a meeting with HR and my boss.”

She was later told not to email or speak to her boyfriend while at work. Catherine Davidson, a conflict management consultant, said 80 per cent of her workplace mediations contained references to inappropriate work emails or social media posts. She said many of these occurred outside work hours where people were affected by alcohol or distracted by “relaxed environments”.

“People forget to draw the line around work behaviour and sometimes they use forms of communication outside of work hours forgetting the same conditions apply,” she said.

Naomi Holtring, from InterMEDIATE, said she was surprised office workers had not learned email etiquette.

“People need to engage their brains before sending an email,” she said.

How NOT to get into trouble

* Check you have not accidentally hit “reply all” before sending an email.

* Always double check the email address of the person you are emailing.

* Do not name people in emails, or write things that would undermine your colleagues’ reputations.

* Do not share pornography at work, even using your personal email.

* Check your employer’s policies thoroughly.