Your Office Coach: Email snooping crosses the line

 

The woman whose desk is next to mine spends hours on Facebook
and even refers to herself as an

online stalker.

She is pals with our network administrator, who supposedly likes
to read every email that comes into the company.
Q:

The woman whose desk is next to mine spends hours on Facebook and even refers to herself as an “online stalker.” She is pals with our network administrator, who supposedly likes to read every email that comes into the company.

I recently figured out that these two have been reading my personal email whenever I access my account at work. Even more alarming, they apparently tried to log in to my online banking. Because they exceeded the allowed number of password attempts, I was locked out of the account when I got home.

To prevent this prying, I have stopped checking my personal email at work. This frustrates my co-worker, who now tries to make me log on by saying that she sent me a picture or joke. When I reply that I’ll read it at home, she gets really annoyed. What else can I do about this?

A:

If the cyber-snoopers are this eager to invade your privacy, then they are undoubtedly doing the same to other unsuspecting employees. Therefore, in addition to protecting yourself, you might also take steps to protect your colleagues.

Given the serious nature of the offense, talking to someone in management or human resources would seem to be the appropriate next step. If you know of others who have been victimized, they can also attend and help present the case.

For example: “We thought you should know that some people in the company have been reading their co-workers’ personal email online and have even tried to get into their bank accounts. We’re asking you to investigate the situation and put a stop to this inappropriate behavior.”

You can then provide whatever proof you have of these intrusions. If management fails to take immediate action, informally spread the word that accessing personal accounts at work can make them vulnerable to viewing by others.

Q:

After two days at my new job, I have not yet signed a payroll form or been told about my work hours. This is a small family business that has been quite successful, but seems very disorganized. I have made two appointments with the owners to discuss my schedule, but they forgot both times. Is this a bad sign?

A:

While this confusion may be disturbing, it is not unusual. Many successful small companies expand so quickly that their processes and procedures can’t keep up with the growth. To compound this problem, the founders are often entrepreneurial types who are not the most organized people in the world.

Whether this is a bad omen or an excellent opportunity depends largely on the nature of your position. If you have an administrative job, you may have actually been hired to help bring order out of this chaos.

In that case, your organizational skills will soon make you indispensable. On the other hand, if your work leaves you at the mercy of these muddled managers, you may soon need a crash course in stress reduction.

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