- Professional Skills -
social media, personal email & hanging out on the web
by fergus mellon
We all do it. Distract ourselves by using the office internet connection to bring our outside world into the office. Whether it is checking bank accounts, making bill payments, posting some deep comment on a "wall" or getting jealous at a friend's great vacation pictures, home creeps into the office, in the same way that the office creeps into the home. Most managers know that you cannot work 8 - 12 hours a day without taking the occasional break. Don't feel you need never do it. Just do it occasionally.
In addition if we are expected to bring work to our home life, (see section “Should I Work Outside Office Hours?”) then employers cannot be surprised if we spend a small amount of our day (30 mins. max) on outside of work. I for one know I check my stocks, my gmail, my LinkedIn "Who's looked at your profile" page, etc. and I know and expect that everyone in my team will do the same. I also know my manager does this as I have caught him doing it!
That said there is a line and it ain't a fine line between having some intrusion from the outside into your day. As a guide if you are checking on any of your personal accounts for more than thirty minutes per day you are doing more than you should.
Even if we ignore the fact that you are being paid to be in the office and "present" / not distracted by your other life there is another motivation for not spending more than thirty minutes being distracted.
If you spend more than thirty minutes during office hours on your non-work sites you will get noticed!
When you get noticed (as you surely will) and when you start to make mistakes (which everyone does at some point) and produce average work, one of the things your poor performance will be attributed to is the fact you spend "all day" online. It is unfortunate but in open plan offices everyone (your peers, your manager, their manager, the head of Human Resources, the CFO, everyone) will notice that you are taking time off during the day to play on your online sites.
It is unlikely you will be fired for "over consumption of the Internets", but you will likely have a "conversation" with your manager based on your lack of focus and based on this will probably be flagged as someone not 100% serious about their job.
To repeat: limit your time on your own projects at work to 30 minutes at most per day (no one cares if they see it on your monitor now and again) during normal business hours. Then if you must check on your friend's updates do it on your cell phone during lunch break, on your trips to the rest room and the occasional coffee break with your friends. This stuff just ain't worth your time: you've invested a ton of money in your college education, why waste that investment by making yourself look bad in the office?
Next section: Give it Six to Nine Months to Feel @ Home
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