Recommended Computer & Internet Usage Policy for Your Office

Posted on November 17, 2015 by Sandy Pardue

The following are guidelines that may apply to computer usage in your dental practice. Feel free to adopt the recommended policy into your office SOP Manual.

PROGRAMS AND PASSWORDS Employees of the Company will be given access to equipment and other secured systems on an as needed basis at the discretion of the Company. If your job duties include the use of computers and various other security systems, you will be issued the proper access, guidance for use, and unique passwords. Employees may not share or use a “universal” password or one that is assigned to others. For security and various other accounting reasons, employees needing computer access must be issued unique passwords for their own use with company equipment and/or programs installed on the company computers and other security systems.

Employees found using the passwords of others are subject to discipline up to and including immediate dismissal.

Employees are encouraged to please help us identify any area where any team member is in violation of this policy, whether intentionally or by mistake, including owners and managers. If you are directed to use a universal password or someone else’s password, please inform the owner as soon as possible.

Further, employees may not access company computers or programs from outside of the workplace unless specifically permitted by the Company. Passwords and security settings are not to be changed unless approved by the Company Administrator in writing and employees are required to relinquish to the Company all access to company programs and/or equipment at time of separation from employment.

VIRUS DETECTION It is your responsibility to make sure that the computer you use has an updated antivirus program installed on it. If there is not one, you need to inform your supervisor immediately so that our computer technician can remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Also, if you are receiving electronic information for the company from other people, such as contractors, designers, or vendors, please make sure to ask them if they use antivirus software on their system as well. Otherwise, you are NOT ALLOWED to download, open, or install any electronic correspondence until you have confirmed that information because unprotected computers can send us a virus via email.

INTERNET / EMAIL USAGE You are required to keep any Company passwords private and are otherwise expected to protect the integrity of any security measures put in place to keep Company records and files secure.

Employees must be aware that all e-mail/Internet records are Company records, and should realize that they have no right or expectation of privacy in such information. As part of the Company’s maintenance and security procedures, the Company reserves the right to monitor, access, retrieve, store and review all e-mail/Internet activity as it deems appropriate, and to disclose the nature and content of any such activity to law enforcement officials or to other third parties, without any prior notice to the employee. As a condition of initial and continued employment, all employees must consent to the Company’s review and disclosure of e-mail messages and Internet records.

All out-going e-mail reflects on the Company. Similarly, visiting web sites often permits them to extract information about the visitor, and store files (“cookies”) on the visitor’s local machine. Therefore, e-mail and web activities on or through Company computers and networks should be used in a manner that is consistent with the professional and business interests of the Company. Accordingly:

  • E-mail, instant messaging, the web, or the Internet should not be used in any manner that is illegal or unethical;
  • E-mail and instant messaging should not be used, and files should not be downloaded/viewed/played, in any manner which would violate or contravene any policy of the Company, including without limitation the Anti-Harassment Policy;
  • Employees may not download software applications from the internet or from any other source without approval in writing from management;
  • E-mail, instant messaging, the web, or the Internet should not be used in a manner that is likely to compromise the integrity of the company’s computer systems or in a manner that is likely to compromise the confidentiality of any confidential information;
  • Business-related e-mail should be treated similarly to other forms of business-related correspondence, i.e., appropriate business correspondence style should be used and, where appropriate, copies should be printed and kept in the appropriate file;
  • Employees should refrain from routing non-work related e-mail messages, such as jokes, political commentaries, news briefs, chain letters, or the like;
  • Pornography in any form is strictly prohibited from being sent, viewed, downloaded, or broadcasted from within or to company network or computer systems. Violations of the policy will not be tolerated. If any laws are suspected to have been broken, the Company may elect to inform appropriate authorities.

Again, you should not assume that e-mail, or instant messaging communications are private, secure or innocuous. Despite systems features that give the appearance of privacy – including passwords and the apparent ability to delete messages — data and information sent or received via e-mail are not necessarily safe for many reasons. Accordingly, you should never download items unless you are specifically authorized and qualified to do so.

SOCIAL MEDIA Employees are encouraged to use the internet responsibly; especially interactive social media sites, personal blogs, message boards, and the like, both during and outside work hours.

Employees should be aware that when they make their personal information public, it is no longer personal and private, and any such information reflects upon the employee individually, the company, as well as his or her coworkers.

Our Company works best when employees work together as a team. An employee is more likely to resolve work-related complaints by speaking directly with co-workers or by utilizing the Company’s Open Door Policy than by posting complaints to a social media outlet.

Nevertheless, if the employee decides to post complaints or criticism, s/he should avoid using statements, photographs, video or audio that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating.

An employee should avoid postings that disparage individuals, or that might constitute harassment or bullying. Examples of such conduct might include offensive posts meant to intentionally harm someone’s reputation or posts that could contribute to a hostile work environment on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion or any other status protected by law or company policy. The Company also prohibits posting of confidential or proprietary information for which it has a legitimate business or ethical interest in keeping private, including any Protected Health Information.

Employees may not take photos showing the conduct of the Company’s business without the Company’s permission. Nor may employees take unauthorized photos while they are themselves actively working. An employee should not attach logos to postings or publications that are not supporting the Company’s legitimate business activities.

The Company permits employees to praise or make positive comments about the Company and its services on public forums. However, whenever employees communicate any information about the Company, they are required to disclose that they are employees of the company and are also encouraged to make clear that the comments reflect their own thoughts and opinions and not necessarily those of the employer.

Any abuse of the e-mail or Internet systems, including use in violation of the law or the Company’s policies, will result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to termination of employment.

GAMES Although this policy should already be implied, there are to be absolutely no games or recreational software used on the computers. This includes such things as Solitaire, FreeCell, or any other non-business computer applications. Again, you are here to conduct business and your computer is only meant to serve that purpose.

As noted in the Baton Rouge Business Report in August, 2001 (“Good Policy Manual Limits Legal Woes”), supervisors have the right to make sure that the computers owned by the company are being used for business purposes only, and to check for abuses. Therefore, the owner reserves the right to monitor computer usage in any of his companies at any time.

PRIVACY We follow all Federal and State guidelines regarding privacy and internet use in the workplace. As stated, our internet systems and any and all other equipment issued by the Company (including telephones, computers, laptops, servers, smart phones, pagers, and/or cell phones) are company property and are monitored to protect company assets. Be aware that we may audit a specific computer, your email, instant messages, text messages, internet usage, and any other electronic communication stored on, communicated through or by the Company’s equipment or network. We have the right to review any communications stored on Company equipment, even if those communications or files are personal, and were sent through an employee’s password-protected email account. Therefore, you should have no expectation of privacy in any personal documents or communications sent through or stored on Company equipment or network. By using the company email system and or equipment you are consenting to this monitoring. With this in mind, please be advised not to keep any personal items on your work computers or any storage device owned by the Company in order to maintain your privacy.