Boss caught me on the internet...advice?

  1. #1 Apr 12, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
    So I'm a student, and I work occasionally at my uni in an administrative office as a student assistant. I've had this job for a few years now. It's nothing crazy - filing, running odd jobs, etc. The office has always been pretty lax.

    Anyways, often during my marathon filing sessions I'll have my computer screen on and have a news page up, reading articles while I file (sites like CNN, Yahoo, NYT, school website, etc) There has never been a problem in my few years of being there. I never go on social media sites, online shop, weird sites, etc.

    Out of the blue today the office boss mentions to my sort-of supervisor "xxx looks like they're on FB" or something along the lines of that (he didn't even say it to me personally so I'm not sure what exactly was said) and later this sort-of supervisor just mentioned to me "Just so you know, bossman has seen you on FB or something, so just watch it...." and that's it. :shame:

    Again, I'm NEVER on social media/etc during work hours. I guess the article I was reading looked like a social media site (like the comments section, etc) I mean, I guess I'm just confused as to why this is a problem now? It has NEVER been brought up before - maybe it was just because it looked like I was on social media/FB which was a problem?

    What would you suggest I do? I mean bossman didn't say anything to me personally so would it be weird to send an email?

    I was thinking of sending an email just apologizing and saying that it won't happen again now that I realize this is a problem that has been brought to my attention. Or should I just not do anything (because he didn't say anything to ME directly and may not know that my sort-of supervisor told me what he said) and obviously just stop using the computer altogether? (now that I know that this is problematic to him?) Also, should I explain that I sometimes have news articles up to read while filing and that I would never be on social media/etc? Or does that sound weird? Because they've seen me on news sites before and have never said anything. I'm just confused as to why this is suddenly a problem and maybe its just the fact that it *looked* like I was on FB? Maybe he was just having a bad day? Why wouldn't he just tell ME directly? Lol I just don't know.

  2. talk to your sort of supervisor... becuase trust me if they were really worried about it IT could look up everything you were on or doing online. Just tell them i swear i never go on any social media i only read articles on ____ and perhaps the comments section looked like social media but i know that is not professional to be doing while i am working and i would never take advanage of the fact that we are allowed to even have access to the internet. (i only say that because we cant even get to at my job)
  3. If he/she doesn't say anything to you don't bring it up. If they do then just say "ok I apologize I enjoy reading the news when I have a break."
  4. I would assume that since your boss did not say anything you are fine... it is unlikely that this is a big deal and if it was the boss would have brought it up to you! If the boss says something then it will be good to mention what you just said.

    At least at our university many of the student office assistants are always online and no one cares (US).
  5. I was going to say exactly this.
    If I were you, unless I was confronted by the boss, I would never bring it up.
  6. I don't blame your boss for being annoyed. You're at work to work, after all.

    I would apologize and say that it won't happen again. And then redouble your efforts to do a good job.
  7. Right I mean I guess I'm just unsure as to why wait for almost 2 years if it was an issue? People pass by my desk all the time while I am working which is why I've always strictly limited my screen use to work stuff or the news. I've been doing this since I got there without anyone batting an eye until now. Believe me, had this been brought up at any point before obviously I would have stopped...but it was never an issue before...?

    I mean the other (full time) employees are regularly on Facebook and sometimes online shopping (not saying that it's right, but it happens) so I guess I just thought checking the news was innocuous enough....and obviously now that I know he finds this to be an issue I won't do it anymore.
  8. I'm in the US too...and its not like I'm *not* doing my work or that I'm online all the time! I do everything that's expected of me and more and they've consistently said I'm the best student worker they've had (lol) and they never brought up my sporadic news reading as an issue. Anyways, now that I know that it's a problem I won't do it anymore....
  9. Look, I'm coming at this from the position of a 50-year-old who owns a successful medium-sized business. If I caught someone doing personal stuff on work time, they'd get one warning, then they'd be fired. If they were a contractor, they might be shown the door on first offense.

    Breaks are taken away from desks. Company equipment is not for personal use. It's called Work, not Fun.

    Yeah, I'm a hardass. I know it.
  10. I'm in the same age group. We are a bit more strict, I think.
    Love the hardass comment.
  11. I see Doreen's point, but I also know that I have always been viewed as a stellar employee who completes projects quickly and very well, but I still take little Internet breaks (discretely, though). :shrugs: I also know that for a lot of work-study jobs (is that what yours is, OP?) you are not given steady work for the entire time you are in the office. You do tend to have downtime, so I guess my question is what your boss expects you to do when you do not have a specific project to complete? Are you supposed to organize files, ask for extra work, etc.? is this their way of telling you to work faster (perhaps reading while filing slows you down)? I think that asking for tasks or doing your work efficiently from now on is probably more important than apologizing for being on the Internet (since you were admonished indirectly) and would make a better impression in the long run.
  12. I completely agree. And don't think it's just your age group that thinks this way - I'm a boss to many 20 somethings, and not yet 30 myself, but I hold everyone to the same expectations that I hold myself to. They're just starting to come around to the fact that no, it's not okay to keep your cell phone in your pocket and text throughout the day. I only have you here for a maximum 40 hours a week, and I expect you to be working during that time.

    I would apologize, you can explain that you were on news sites but I wouldn't expect your employer to think that was much better. I wouldn't be happy if my employees, even the part-time or student interns were surfing CNN.

    If you get bored while filing, ask if you can turn a radio on. I can't see how you can accurately be filing while reading articles at the same time. I always tell my associates if they ever think they're done with their work and have nothing to do/think it's appropriate to start reading a book, they need to call or see me - I can think of 10 things that need to be done, and as someone else pointed out you'll get much more respect from your boss if you come up and say "hey, I'm done with my work is there anything else I can do?" rather than just sit around a computer.

    Honestly it was that attitude that got me the opportunities to get me where I am today. I was working a job where I (and the other associates) easily got our work done in the first 5-6 hours, and were just sitting around computers checking e-mail or doing whatever the rest of the day. I was going crazy with boredom and wasn't feeling challenged, so I took my issue with just sitting around to my boss. I was soon made the manager of a unit with about 10 part-time students working under me.
  13. I think it's a generation difference, IMO. Most people I'd say in their 30's and younger going online at work(or on their cell phone) is considered "normal" behavior that they wouldn't think twice about. They grew up on the internet. Some places are a lot more lax on their internet settings than others and some are very strict.

    At the end of the day I agree with Dorian you are there and get paid to work not surf around online. Regardless of the fact that you consider the pages you surf online to not be as "bad" as other employees, don't try to justify your actions by comparing yourself to what other employees do online. As to why the manager didn't directly come to you and had your supervisor handle the situation, that's what managers do they delegate tasks to the people below them.
  14. Thanks for all the thoughts ladies! Its been interesting to see the different ideas that have come out. I've decided to just lay low about it and obviously, stop the intermittent surfing. I'm someone that you just have to tell me once and its done (which is why I find it frustrating that it wasn't brought up at any point in my 2 years...I mean, its an easily remedied situation)

    That's cool athena21! God I WISH there was room from even some growth in this job even if it is a simple uni job that I leave after I graduate soon...but literally there is none because its strictly not allowed for student worker positions to get promotions or raises or any of that. :shucks: Oh well...but I'll keep it in mind for the future!
  15. Both of my jobs it's totally fine since one job we have an online store and use social media to promote the store and things like that so I never get questioned if I'm on facebook/twitter/etc. I mean I wouldn't be doing personal stuff anyway on work time unless it's email wise since my email is used both for work and personal and is turned on when I am there 24/7 so I can at least read and screen important and not important messages, but I do have full access to everything. They basically trust that I am utilizing my time wisely. My other job we can't use internet while actually working, but once we have a break we are allowed to do whatever we want online like facebook/email/shopping...