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Social Media and Mobile Boundaries – A Fine Line Between Right and Not-So-Right

About a week ago I was using the public restroom at our office and the lady in the stall beside me was talking on her cell phone while using the restroom. I was so confused, I didn’t know if I was allowed to flush the toilet or wait in there until she was finished her conversation. (So, just for fun, I flushed about 6 times, but that’s beside the point).

People have allowed their boundaries of acceptable mobile behavior to be blurred. Just because your phone is “mobile” doesn’t mean it must go everywhere with you (the bathroom, under your pillow, etc.) And people don’t want to carry on a conversation with you while you are in the bathroom so let’s go back to the times before social media and smart phones were prevalent in the workplace and the world at large. This may take some effort…

I started working with Social Media for business purposes in 2009 and oh what a different social time it was! For a long time, I heard employers express the fact that Social Media was not going to exist for long so it was nothing to worry about in the workplace. The progression then became that Social Media was nothing but a deterrent from work and must be banned from the workplace. Currently, employers are becoming aware of the fact that Social Media will most likely live a long life in business and if you can’t beat it, join it (mostly because your employees are using social media on their mobile devices whether you like it or not!).

But when social media is available in the workplace, one must carefully develop a Social Media Policy that takes into account the methods in which employees can use social media, as well as a list of topics they can and cannot discuss online. Care must also be taken in deciding who manages your social reputation – interns need not apply! Although we think common sense should reign supreme, we have seen many instances in which stupidity was far superior. What is said on the web, stays on the web FOREVER (do me a favor and click here – I am sure Nicholas Cage expected these commercials to be seen only in Japan ). So, although we could talk safety and smarts regarding what we put out there on the web, sometimes emotions take over and our fingers type faster than our brains can tell us to STOP AND THINK!

Recently in the news there has been much talk about employers in States such as Illinois and Maryland who have requested Facebook passwords from their applicants in the interview process. Luckily, in Canada, we have privacy laws and privacy commissioners that stand between our privacy rights and our interviewers. Although employers are more than welcome to surf the web for information that exists publicly on the web, they cannot ask us to hand over the keys to our house, so to speak.

That being said, employees must also step back and take a clear look at when using Social Media and mobile devices in the workplace become an infringement on your working time. Texting with your hunny all day is not a good use of company time, and neither is Facebooking about the party last weekend at which you got plastered. Although workplaces are allowing us to be more digitally social in the workplace, we must still use ethical judgment in regards to workplace behavior in every instance.

And for goodness sake, please stop and think before you bring your cell phone into the bathroom. It’s just gross and, if the toilet beside you flushes 6 times, it was probably me!


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