Chances are your workplace IT infrastructure has some restrictions in place, whether that’s a basic filter to cut out objectionable sites or a full lock-down that stops you even changing your desktop colour scheme. But no matter what those rules — or how much mistrust they breed — there’s some sure-fire ways to misuse technology that definitely fall into the CLM (career-limiting move) category. Here’s five real-life examples that you should not emulate in your office. (Yep, dressing up as a clown and playing with a notebook might be the sixth. Photo: PR Newswire.)
Forgetting to do your job because of Facebook
On-air radio jobs are notoriously hard to get, so you’d think you’d pay attention when the hourly news break comes around. Not so one newsreader, who managed to forget to read a recent weekend bulletin on 3AW because she was busy on Facebook. (Obviously she didn’t have issues with the recent redesign.) The lesson: If your work does let you access Facebook (or any other social network), don’t abuse the privilege.
Leaving a confidential CD in a public computer
Leaving any form of portable data storage in a public place is gut-wrenching, but it’s hard to imagine a worse-case scenario than the one which befell Brigadier Elizabeth Cosson in 2006. Her copy of a confidential report into how the body of deceased solider Jake Kovco got misplaced in a morgue ended up left in the CD drive of an airport lounge computer, and wound up fodder for a radio broadcast. Cue massive embarrassment all around. The lesson: Check the damn drive again.
Pretending to be someone else to steal telephone records
It’s called pretexting, it’s a crime, but that didn’t stop the chairwoman of HP, Patricia Dunn, from authorising an investigation that used it in a bid to work out who might be leaking HP board information to journalists. Dunn stuck it out for a while before leaving HP – a lesser functionary probably wouldn’t have been so lucky and have been out the day the news leaked. The lesson: Don’t steal personal information, and don’t lie to get it. (Didn’t they teach that back around kindergarten?)
Using your work email for a private exchange
There are dozens of examples of embarrassing emails that have been forwarded to the world at large, but for career damage, it’s hard to beat the infamous 2000 case of Claire Swire, whose email exchange about how much she enjoyed oral sex with her then boyfriend ultimately resulted in his being suspended. Snopes has the full, NSFW exchange for your enjoyment. The lesson: Don’t use your work inbox for your personal life.
Using your work email to fight with colleagues
It should be obvious that work email is professional communication, and thus requires a certain amount of decorum, but that message doesn’t always sink in even in professional firms. Australia’s most infamous email war was between two secretaries at law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, which began as an argument over a stolen ham sandwich and descended into personal abuse. Once the email got widely circulated, both employees involved were fired. The lesson: Keep it professional (and label your workplace food).
Got your own tale of workplace techno-embarrassment? Leave a comment to warn off others from your fate.