Dear Lifehacker, Is there any way I can track or see the history of which sites someone has accessed through Chrome’s Incognito mode? If my coworker isn’t yelling at me over nothing, she’s on Perez Hilton or shopping for clothes or on Twitter or updating her blog — all while using Incognito. I don’t actually know what she is being employed for when 90 per cent of the time she does no work. I don’t want to get her fired (at least not immediately anyway). I just want to put together a dossier of sorts. Thanks, Disgruntled
I’m going to answer your question in three stages.
No, you can’t easily track what your coworker is doing in Incognito mode. In order to be able to do that, you’d need to install some kind of tracking or keylogging software on her machine. First and foremost, that’s at least as unethical as what she’s apparently doing. Secondly, chances are you wouldn’t be able to install it anyway if you’re in a workplace with any kind of IT infrastructure in place, since the work PC environment is probably locked down against new installations. Even if it isn’t, security software is likely to block installing those kinds of tools.
Your work IT department probably can see what’s happening. Incognito mode might keep sites out of Chrome’s history, but all the site lookups would still be accessible (with a little work) by IT staff. But that’s not going to happen unless you’ve already made a complaint and management decides it’s worth the effort to investigate. And that’s really the crux of the issue here: if your colleague is being genuinely unproductive, you need to speak out about it in an appropriate fashion, not by assembling a ‘dossier’ of bad behaviour that you want for apparently vague purposes.
If you have issues with a coworker, they need addressing directly. The fact of the matter is that we’re not going to get on with or like all of our colleagues equally. In the scenario you describe (and taking your descriptions at face value), there’s a couple of things you can do.
If your workflow is essentially independent of your colleague, then you should basically just ignore her and get on with your job (and life). You clearly don’t like her much; it appears she doesn’t like you much either. Trying to get her busted for her online habits is not going to improve that scenario.
If your coworker’s constant non-work activity (online or otherwise) is actually directly impacting your productivity, then the appropriate thing to do is to alert a manager that it’s an issue. Don’t make it a big personal issue; just say something like “Carly seems to spend a lot of time web surfing, and it’s impacting our ability to get work done”. Ideally, cite specific examples of projects that haven’t been completed or areas you’ve had to do extra work in.
Then leave it to management to sort out. Constantly harping on it will make you look bad. If the person is actually senior to you, check out our post on how to complain about your boss.
There’s a strong “don’t be a dobber” culture in some Australian workplaces, and that might be holding you back. But you can’t really have it both ways. If it’s more important to you for other colleagues to respect your adherence to that norm, then you’ll just have to put up with your coworker’s Perez-loving ways. Though that does lead to the final question: if you’ve got enough time to notice that she’s apparently not working 90 per cent of the time, how productive are you actually being?
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