A well-designed business computer use policy can help protect your business and its technology. You’ll be able to keep your business running efficiently, and your employees will have a clear understanding of what is, and is not, appropriate to do on their business computers.

Why you need a computer use policy

In a perfect world, employees would use work computers only for business purposes. They would make responsible choices about where they go online and what they download. Until we live in a perfect world, you have three strong reasons to create a clear business computer use policy.

    1. Streaming videos or playing games can slow down your network, making it harder for you to do business. Minimizing this type of usage, especially when it’s not essential to the business helps maximize network speed.
    2. Your employees are paid to work, not to scroll Facebook, play Candy Crush or chat with friends – but the temptation to do so is high. They might not even realize it’s a problem if you don’t tell them so.
    3. Downloading files or visiting unauthorized sites can open your business computer and your network up to security threats.

Deciding what is and is not okay

A computer use policy needs to be strong enough to protect your network but flexible enough to allow employees to do their jobs. If you’re asking employees to post about your business on Facebook, but then you tell them they can’t access social media sites while at work, you’ve created an impossible situation.

If you want them to do online research but then block or restrict certain sites, you may prevent them from doing their jobs well. Ultimately, allowing employees the freedom to do their job should be balanced by monitoring to make sure that they’re not abusing the opportunity.

Make it clear that business computers, and the business-provided Wi-Fi, are to be used for business purposes only. Include a specific list of prohibited actions: visiting social media sites, checking personal email and playing online games should all be specified if you want to prohibit them. Don’t assume that employees know what is and is not okay.

If you need help creating your business computer use policy, here’s a useful template from the Society for Human Resource Management. Your IT department can also advise you on potential problem areas and how to address them.

Be sure to update your policy periodically in response to new trends. For example, bitcoin mining has risen in popularity over the last couple of years. It can use a lot of resources, slowing down individual computers and your network. It might seem obvious to you that employees should not be doing it at work, but that doesn’t mean it’s obvious to them. Update your policy to prohibit bitcoin mining and other trends as they arise.

What about personal devices?

Making a business computer use policy is all well and good, but what about the personal devices that so many employees carry? Cell phones, tablets and even personal laptops can still cause network slowdowns and security issues.

Fortunately, if you have the right technology in place, you can block personal devices from connecting to wireless router and accessing the internet.

How do I monitor computer use?

With the right technology in place, you can monitor which devices are on the network at any given time, and what they are doing. This information can help you spot problem areas and adjust your business computer use policy accordingly.

Your IT department can track this information and help you make a business computer use policy that works for your business. Contact Technology Solutions to get started.