Be Careful What You Keep On Your Work Computer

By | May 12, 2015

I was just reading an article at Office Ninjas about Journaling in the Workplace. It’s a good post and well worth reading. Be sure to follow her links, they’re quite interesting. It made me think of an experience I had a few years ago.

I was working at a small non-profit (the home of wearing many hats). I had system admin duties as well as working as the Executive Assistant. I had been tasked with finding a certain file containing a memo that no one could remember who wrote. It required that I search everyone’s personal network files as well as files on everyone’s computers.

Well, I found some very interesting things on computers and personal network files. Most had nothing to do with work, but also didn’t really impact the agency either, and I ignored them. But I came across one file that was problematic. Someone was keeping a journal on her work computer, and she had things in there about being drunk and stoned at a local pub that was owned by a big donor to our agency. She talked several times in the journal about meeting other donors there as well and how stoned she was at the time. She also talked about being stoned at work a few times.

I thought about it for a couple of days before I eventually gave the information to her supervisor. I didn’t want to breach her privacy, but her behavior could place the Agency in a very bad light. Eventually, it came down to the fact that she had no expectation of privacy at work and that the agency owned all data on their computers and networks. Needless to say, she was fired.

The moral of this little story is be careful what you keep on your work computer. This example was particularly egregious, but some employers will take issue with much less. Some make it a firing offense to have any personal information on your computer at all.

So, journaling is good. Just be careful what you say or do on your work computer.

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