WSJ has an interesting article on a NY Judge ruling on an employee taken to court for surfing at work. Judge Spooner ruled that “the internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for work.” And city agencies, he noted, let workers make personal calls as long as they don’t interfere with their jobs.
The Real Time column goes on conclude that:
“…it’s a mix of things, including the productivity gains of information technology substantially outweighing the losses of high-tech goofing off; the fact that the workday has always included a certain amount of goofing off; and the likelihood that workers aren’t any more slothful than they’ve ever been. If anything, perhaps they’re more efficient about doing whatever they shouldn’t be doing: Buying a book for your nephew almost certainly takes less time clicking around Amazon than running out to the mall bookstore on your lunch hour.
But here’s the thing that should give office workers toasting Judge Spooner pause: While the Internet has let us bring our personal lives into the office in new ways, it’s also let our office follow us once we leave. Witness your coworker ignoring his beer because he’s Blackberrying, or your spouse in bed with a VPN-connected laptop propped against her knees. And therein lies the other half of the emerging bargain. If surfing the Web is OK in the office, you’ve got no cause to carp when the boss wonders why you didn’t respond to that 8 p.m. email.”