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Topics: Career Development, Innovation, Organizational Culture
Conducting Personal Business on company Time: How ethical is that? And where do you draw the line?
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Conducting Personal Business on company Time: We tend to spend so much of our weekday hours on the job, we find ourselves tempted (or have no option but) to conduct personal business on company time; examples include setting up doctor's appointments on company phone lines, making vacation reservations using the company's computer.
How ethical is that? And where do you draw the line?

Would it be still ethical if we are extending our work days, working from home after hours; hence, "borrowing" the time to conduct personal transactions?
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I'm fortunate because now I'm working in a very flexible environment where management not only understand and promote work-life balance, also professional development "else I wouldn't be typing this now" (Yes, I'm quoting or I copied Aaron). I have to recognize that is the first time that I work in this flexible environments and sometimes I ask my manager or my peers if I can join a webinar while waiting for the next meeting.

From my point of view is not only Rules & Regulations, as Rami noted, the country/state and organizational culture is key to this topic.

Last but not least the ethics of each individual... You can have a rule or regulation, example some companies don't allow (their IT department can ban it) social media access from the work network/computer...however the employees use their personal phone to check social media or buy online in Amazon personal stuff

Then where we draw the line depends on ethics or accountability, organization - country specifics culture.
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2 replies by Amany Nuseibeh and Sante Vergini
Sep 12, 2018 8:38 PM
Sante Vergini
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That's great to hear Mayte. If you are working in a flexible environment, I hope you can participate in my online poll here if you haven't already:

https://www.projectmanagement.com/polls/46...l-be-effective-
Sep 18, 2018 12:31 AM
Amany Nuseibeh
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You are quite fortunate Mayte. Management walking the talk at all levels is quite a blessing. Safety and wellbeing are high on the list of priorities, where most of the management walks the talk. However, that doesn't stop a boss whose views does not align with the company's policies and practices to exercise certain influence.
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Sep 12, 2018 1:43 PM
Replying to Mayte Mata-Sivera
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I'm fortunate because now I'm working in a very flexible environment where management not only understand and promote work-life balance, also professional development "else I wouldn't be typing this now" (Yes, I'm quoting or I copied Aaron). I have to recognize that is the first time that I work in this flexible environments and sometimes I ask my manager or my peers if I can join a webinar while waiting for the next meeting.

From my point of view is not only Rules & Regulations, as Rami noted, the country/state and organizational culture is key to this topic.

Last but not least the ethics of each individual... You can have a rule or regulation, example some companies don't allow (their IT department can ban it) social media access from the work network/computer...however the employees use their personal phone to check social media or buy online in Amazon personal stuff

Then where we draw the line depends on ethics or accountability, organization - country specifics culture.
That's great to hear Mayte. If you are working in a flexible environment, I hope you can participate in my online poll here if you haven't already:

https://www.projectmanagement.com/polls/46...l-be-effective-
Network:2175



Sep 12, 2018 1:43 PM
Replying to Mayte Mata-Sivera
...
I'm fortunate because now I'm working in a very flexible environment where management not only understand and promote work-life balance, also professional development "else I wouldn't be typing this now" (Yes, I'm quoting or I copied Aaron). I have to recognize that is the first time that I work in this flexible environments and sometimes I ask my manager or my peers if I can join a webinar while waiting for the next meeting.

From my point of view is not only Rules & Regulations, as Rami noted, the country/state and organizational culture is key to this topic.

Last but not least the ethics of each individual... You can have a rule or regulation, example some companies don't allow (their IT department can ban it) social media access from the work network/computer...however the employees use their personal phone to check social media or buy online in Amazon personal stuff

Then where we draw the line depends on ethics or accountability, organization - country specifics culture.
You are quite fortunate Mayte. Management walking the talk at all levels is quite a blessing. Safety and wellbeing are high on the list of priorities, where most of the management walks the talk. However, that doesn't stop a boss whose views does not align with the company's policies and practices to exercise certain influence.
Network:7256



At first it seems a debatable one. Yes definitely it is unethical, provided the responsibility assigned to the person is not performed as per Company expectations. But I have a pertinent question.
If a person is performing personal business on Company's time, the role of reporting officer is also questionable. what action the reporting officer has taken to address the issue?
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1 reply by Amany Nuseibeh
Sep 18, 2018 2:40 AM
Amany Nuseibeh
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Thank you Rajesh. I am not familiar with the "Reporting Officer" role. However, if every action an employee takes is to be watched and reported on, the organisation would be very difficult to work for!

As a number of respondents indicated, company policy would provide guidance on what's acceptable and what's not. In the organisation, I am currently working for, making a doctor's appointment is acceptable, making a one-off holiday reservation is also acceptable, but searching the web every day to land a holiday package or to decide on the destination or the details of a holiday is NOT acceptable.

The policy is well explained and re-enforced with an e-learning module that is mandatory to go through by every employee. It also concludes conducting a simple test to ensure that the policy is well understood and the actions are judged as per the policy.

Having said that, there are always professionals whose behaviours are more stringent than the policy and others who take the policy as a guideline but do not adhere to it.

It's our commitment to our Ethics Code and Professional Conduct; respect, responsibility, fairness and honesty; maintaining the highest standards and setting a great example to others in our teams and organizations that will differentiate us.
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Sep 18, 2018 2:25 AM
Replying to RAJESH K L
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At first it seems a debatable one. Yes definitely it is unethical, provided the responsibility assigned to the person is not performed as per Company expectations. But I have a pertinent question.
If a person is performing personal business on Company's time, the role of reporting officer is also questionable. what action the reporting officer has taken to address the issue?
Thank you Rajesh. I am not familiar with the "Reporting Officer" role. However, if every action an employee takes is to be watched and reported on, the organisation would be very difficult to work for!

As a number of respondents indicated, company policy would provide guidance on what's acceptable and what's not. In the organisation, I am currently working for, making a doctor's appointment is acceptable, making a one-off holiday reservation is also acceptable, but searching the web every day to land a holiday package or to decide on the destination or the details of a holiday is NOT acceptable.

The policy is well explained and re-enforced with an e-learning module that is mandatory to go through by every employee. It also concludes conducting a simple test to ensure that the policy is well understood and the actions are judged as per the policy.

Having said that, there are always professionals whose behaviours are more stringent than the policy and others who take the policy as a guideline but do not adhere to it.

It's our commitment to our Ethics Code and Professional Conduct; respect, responsibility, fairness and honesty; maintaining the highest standards and setting a great example to others in our teams and organizations that will differentiate us.
Network:2175



Sep 12, 2018 12:53 PM
Replying to Ashok Kumar
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It depends whether your organizational culture allow work-life balance. All managers I know work way more than strictly business hours.

An open culture to share member's availability helps in the team performance. I believe most crucial thing is ...to manage team-interaction ground rules to meet project deadlines.
Thank you Ashok. I agree with you - sharing team's availability helps the team to perform better. As a matter of fact, I have a few team members who make sure that their functions will be covered by their peers for the time they are planning to be away. It's quite heart warming to watch their commitment and collaboration; taking "the others" into consideration.
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Sep 11, 2018 1:16 PM
Replying to Rami Kaibni
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It depends on the company rules and regulations. For example, in our line of business (We are employees), the working hours are 8:30 - 5:30. However, in many times we have to attend to work earlier and sometimes stay later.

The company fully understands that especially for doctors appointments, there is no other way somtimes other than schedule those appointments during working hours. As long as you disclose this and it is agreed on AND you are fullfilling your duties then I do not see this as unethical.

As you are aware Amany, projects load go in waves, sometimes you are fully hammered and in other times, your work loads goes down. When I do not have much work load, I like to read or study or attend to personal matters and of course I disclose this in advance with my superiors. We are in the 20th century and are all professionals, not in kinder garden so again, as long as you are doing your job fully, delivering what is required (Whether in 1 or 8 hours, that's on you) then that's all what matters. Employers can't really expect people to stare at the ceiling if they are efficient and did their things quickly for example. I hope you got what I am aiming at here.
Great perspectives, Rami! Very well articulated too!
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Amany: Thanks for starting this thought-provoking thread!
I already see many great answers here.
Adding my two cent's worth:
1. Personal work on company time is almost completely unavoidable, especially in unavoidable situations where the appointment being made cannot be done outside office hours. Joshua Render has mentioned a few specific situations.
2. As Kiron Bondale rightly pointed out, even the unavoidable may have to be stricly avoided if the contract mentions it. For example, in highly controlled environment where client confidentiality is de rigeur, even connecting to the internet is forbidden, and personal phones are not even allowed in the workplace.
3. Sante and Dinah pertinently show that, in a majority of situations, official work is inevitable in personal time. In some cases, such work eats up a lot of personal time, causing serious work-life balance issues.
4. In my personal experience, most modern superiors are not bothered about short unavoidable breaks as long as the assigned work gets done well, and in time.
5. However, it is completely unethical to use workplace resources for one's own business needs.

All of us have to make a judgement call on how much personal work is too much. And that decision can be tricky.

In the end, we have to adapt to specific workplace situations and contract terms, never letting the "personal" work affect the client's prorities.
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1 reply by Amany Nuseibeh
Nov 13, 2018 2:18 PM
Amany Nuseibeh
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Thank you for sharing Karthik! Agree - understanding our responsibilities and respecting the organisation's policies honouring our commitments is critical.
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It also depends on what you are considering "personal business". I think everyone here has address it as things like doctor appointments and other miscellaneous personal tasks. That is very different than if you are running a home revenue generating business on company time. That is generally looked at very differently than the aforementioned reasonable personal use of company resources and people get fired for that.
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1 reply by Amany Nuseibeh
Nov 13, 2018 2:21 PM
Amany Nuseibeh
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Thank you for sharing Keith. I guess running a business at the expense of company time does not align to our Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct as project managers/professionals, nor would it adhere to any company's policy.
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I concur with my colleagues here. It depends on the organization and culture. However, I think there are certain things you cannot do at work and maintain your professional reputation.
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1 reply by Amany Nuseibeh
Nov 13, 2018 2:21 PM
Amany Nuseibeh
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Thank you Anish.
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