It is very important that in all organizations, there is a policy that regulates the use of computers, accessories, and applications, which must be written and periodically reviewed by the Information Technology Manager or CIO.
This Information Technology policy must be published and available on internal websites, and if necessary, meetings should be held and people must be invited to explain it to the rest of the organization, and in this way, everyone should be aware of it and can solve any questions they may have about it.
To establish this policy, something very important must be taken into account, which is the company’s culture and its philosophy, so that it has to be consistent with the company’s values and vision.
That is, if the company is flexible, then this policy will also be flexible, but if the company is traditional or old school, then, in the same way, the policies of the Information Technology department must be in accordance with this way of thinking of the company.
Same way, this and all other policies of the Information Technology department must be discussed and approved by the CIO or Top Management, or by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, as the case may be.
This policy should clearly state what is allowed and what is not allowed, in regard to company-owned equipment, including whether or not it can be used for personal purposes or matters.
In this way, all users will know specifically what are the rules for using this equipment, devices, software, and applications, which are property of the company.
Like we already said before, something that must be made very clear, is that these computers and electronic devices, are owned by the company, and are not personal, since on some occasions some people may act, assuming that the computers or laptops that were assigned to them by the company to work, instead belongs to them and that they can install what they want, do what they want, and use them without restrictions, which is not correct.
Below is an example of an Acceptable Use Policy for using computers, accessories, software, and ERP applications, and in general, all electronic devices.
“Computers, accessories, software applications, and the Internet, are company owned and must be used in a professional manner at all times.”
“In regards to personal use of computer equipment, it can be allowed, as long as it is done in an ethical way that does not imply a significant consumption of resources, that interferes with other people’s activities or the performance of work tasks.”
Of course, this is just an example, but it is important to remember that each company is different, so it is only intended to serve as an example, so you can get some ideas, and adapt it to your own needs.
We all have heard stories about how Google handles its culture to be more flexible than the rest of the companies, so we can imagine that company policies should be totally different in that kind of corporation.
This policy must apply to all computers, laptops, accessories, software applications, and the Internet, owned by the company.
For example, we can include here:
Servers, desktop computers, computer monitors, televisions, laptops, tablets, printers, scanners, phones, smartphones, external hard drives, Bluetooth accessories, flash drives, battery backup, AV equipment, routers, network switches, telephone equipment, security cameras, digital video recorders, input devices, KVM switches, wireless access points, telecommunications equipment, projectors, GPS equipment, network storage devices, and others like these.
In this policy, personal use of the company-owned computers, accessories, software applications, etc., may be allowed, but it must be done in a professional manner that does not significantly interfere with the work of that person or others, as well nor does it consume company-owned resources, such as printing a huge amount of paper.
Common sense indicates that we all spend a lot of time in the office and that sometimes we may be forced to complete and file some personal files, maybe some school matters, purchase plane or bus tickets to travel, send messages to our family, and many more, etc.
As we said, it would be absurd to prohibit them from being done, however, you must be aware that for this purpose, you are using both the computer, the software, such as a spreadsheet or word processing software, the printer, sheets of paper, electricity, and internet, in addition to employee time, all owned by the company.
For this reason, a recommendation may be to allow these types of activities to be carried out, but in a professional manner, that is, limited to only necessary situations, or without taking too much time, or using too much paper to print personal documents.
On the other hand, it must also be specified that all these activities should not affect or harm the feelings of other people, avoiding opening web pages with inappropriate content, such as pornography, violence, grotesque language, religious, or discriminatory language.
As we have seen, having a computer equipment attribution policy by the information technology department is very important to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, clearly establishing what is allowed and what is not allowed to be done.
If you are the manager of the information technology department, we strongly recommend that little by little, you start writing your own technology-related policies.
As we have already said, it is very important that there is good communication with the CIO, General Management, or the Board of Directors, and be aligned with the company’s values.
Gilberto Acuña is an IT Professional and has worked for more than 30 years in the Information Technology area, serving as IT Infrastructure Manager and Information Technology Manager in various companies in Mexico and the United States, and in different industries, such as beverages, restaurants, energy. He has is also a business owner, and IT, SEO, and e-commerce consultant.
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