Book Review: The e-Policy Handbook (2nd Edition)

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Is there a policy in place for employees to work online? While I am a big advocate of using social media tools at work to increase productivity, it is important to do so in a safe and controlled manner. Nancy Flynn’s e-Policy Handbook is a comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to create clear policies for online working. This comprehensive guide is perfect for anyone who needs to develop policies at the corporate level or want to protect yourself from a particular project through incorporating e-policies in your team charter.
Flynn is the founder of the ePolicy Institute and the executive director. The institute conducts regular research into how companies use electronic communication and how employees abuse it. For example, 35% use instant messaging at work. However, half of employees have downloaded free tools from online. Many times, employers don’t know that the software is being used. Project managers can easily be caught in the middle. Project communications are being done over instant messaging. This is not archived, secure, and can still be legally binding. Contracts made over instant messaging are still contracts.
Some of the statistics and behavior described in this book are quite surprising. 84% of employers who fired employees because of internet misuse were doing so because the employee was downloading, viewing, or uploading inappropriate or obscenities material. These employees think they can be excused for acting like this at work. There are many people who feel that the company PCs are partly provided for their ‘entertainment.’ Managers should have a clear policy about what is acceptable and how to remove employees who violate the rules.
It can be tedious to read the entire book, even if you are not tasked with writing an entire suite of e-policies. It’s the type of book you would keep on hand in case you need to adapt new technology or if you want to ensure you have everything covered. When you launch your project Wiki, make sure to hand this book to HR. Make sure that their employee induction program covers acceptable usage. Ask them to update the policies. Every project manager should be able to see how their projects impact corporate policies and advise when they are lacking.
The book includes sample electronic business communication policies and an Appendix B section with great dos-and-don’ts. Many of the suggestions Flinn makes seem excessive, but it is important to realize that people really do need guidance on how to use email, blogs, and social networking tools. Take a look at the policies of your company. Are they clear about how instant messaging and email can be used? If not, you should send a copy to someone in your organization.