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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?

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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Nov 13, 2018 1:13 AM
Replying to Karthik Ramamurthy
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.
Thank you for sharing Karthik! Agree - understanding our responsibilities and respecting the organisation's policies honouring our commitments is critical.

Nov 13, 2018 10:05 AM
Replying to Keith Novak
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.
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.

Nov 13, 2018 11:21 AM
Replying to Anish Abraham
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.
Thank you Anish.

At this moment, I am in the office, and Last 10 mins I am on this thought which started at the LinkedIn post. Now If I look at total time to read and feedback this could be 30 mins spent. Would that be ethical for Project Manager? I feel the answer to this has to come from my boss. As we all are involved in producing products and services which is actually our measure of success, There are huge personal learning that happens which I apply to business and another way also when I am doing my work get many creative ideas to do personal work and data organization. Also what you could do some years back in the whole day, the same you accomplish today in maybe one our, so as your creativity is also increasing day by day benefiting employer, I feel based on the content of my work its ethical. but as others have mentioned, if I would be bank Cashier and do not get a chance to leave my desk even for a minute due to customer queue in that setting it would be completely unethical for me to keep customers waiting and browse linked in or PMI site.
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