Top 10 Tips for Using the Web at Work
Like email at work, using the Web in the workplace generates special concerns for the user.
Workers at all levels of an organization should be aware of some of the basic realities of using the Web in the workplace.
The following tips will help any user to avoid many of the hazards associated with improper or inefficient use of the Web in the workplace.
- Know the organization’s rules for using the Web
Every organization that provides email access to workers should have some kind of policy that covers how that resource can be used. Ideally, that organization’s Web use policy is written down and everyone in the organization is made aware of the policy. If there is no explicit policy, then review policies concerning the use of the organization’s resources and use your judgment as to what is proper conduct. Review the Top 10 Tips for Using Email at Work and Typical Internet Acceptable Use Policies for the Workplace for related advice concerning the use of the Web in the workplace.
- Know how to use a search engine or directory
Effective use of a search engine or directory is one of the keys for getting the most out of the Web.
Without this basic skill, you are not likely to be able to locate many of the online resources that could benefit you or your organization. Review Using Search Engines and Directories for more insights into how to find information on the Web.
- Be efficient in how you use the Web
Given the vast number of sites and resources on the Web, you should have a consistent and disciplined approach to using the Web as a tool, as well as a systematic approach for finding useful sites and evaluating the information on those sites.
- Avoid visiting Web sites that contain material that is inappropriate for the workplace
Sites depicting nudity, or containing content of a sexual nature are clearly inappropriate for most workplaces. Also, sites dealing with a variety of other themes may be offensive to others in the workplace. In some cases, an employer that allows workers to access these kinds of sites may be in violation of federal regulations dealing with harassment in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides detailed information on what may constitute harassment in the workplace.
- Record the URLs of your favorite or most useful sites or pages
When you find a page or a site that is particularly useful, use your browser’s bookmarking capability to record the URL. By using the bookmarking function, it is easy to organize your favorite links for quick access.
- Remember that your Web use can be monitored and reviewed
In the U.S., organizations are granted wide latitude in monitoring how workers use the Web. This includes information stored on individual computers such as bookmark or favorites lists, and information stored on centralized computer network components. Assume that every site that you visit and every page that you visit can be recorded and reviewed by management. Also, if certain sites are blocked by the organization, attempting to visit those sites may trigger some kind of response by the organization.
- Be aware of the busy periods for the system
Using the Web may slowed by high demand during those periods where either many inside the organization are trying to use the Web, or where there is high external traffic volume elsewhere on the Web.
- Report any inadvertent visit to in inappropriate site
Fore a variety of reasons, it is quite possible to accidentally come across a site that is clearly inappropriate for the workplace. When this happens, make note of the URL and the circumstances that led you to that site and report it to the appropriate part of the organization. Depending on the organization, the administrators of the computer network may seek to block any user at that organization from visiting that site in the future.
- Document and report illegal, suspicious, or unusual activity to the appropriate part of the organization
Be sure that you document the activity in writing and report it to the appropriate level of management.
If the activity involves one or more people inside the organization, be sure that you follow established procedures for dealing with the issue. Review Ten Internet Activities You Should Not Do at Work for insights into what you should report.
- Exercise common sense whenever you use the Web
Because the way that any individual or any organization uses the Internet is constantly evolving, there will very likely be situations that have not been addressed by the organization. When in doubt or if the situation is ambiguous, review the organization’s current policies and apply your common sense to the situation.