Virtual Absenteeism

Virtual Absenteeism

William H. Friedman (University of Central Arkansas, USA)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-930708-21-1.ch008
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This chapter will discuss problems arising from employee use of the Internet for personal pursuits during paid working hours. Since there are both financial and non-financial consequences of such behavior (Friedman, 2000), it is worthwhile to evaluate existing attempts to deal with this problem and suggest some new ones. Nevertheless, virtual absenteeism is not a totally negative phenomenon; hence, one needs to give a fair hearing to the claims of the employees engaged in this activity. It is not necessarily an economic loss to the employer when employees take care of private matters or even play on the Internet, if it is within reason and results in a refreshed approach to the job at hand. Still, if the employee is excessively occupied with non-business Internet activity, there is no doubt a corresponding decrease in the amount of conscious attention given to the processing of organizational concerns. Moreover, ethical issues emerge concerning the misuse of time, avoidance of responsibility and violation of employee-employer contracts, implicit or explicit. Since the employer is defraying the cost of both the hardware and software involved, Internet misuse results in expenses far exceeding losses from such minor trespasses as personal telephone calls and company stationery misappropriated for personal reasons. Further, diversionary materials such as magazines and games brought to the workplace by employees which were paid out of their own pockets, while clearly resulting in lost time for the employer, at least did not require highly sophisticated and expensive technology to support the diversions. Finally, it is necessary to show that the sheer scale of modern slacking requires very special measures that consider not only financial, but legal, social, moral and psychological ramifications as well.

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