Network usage during work hours has quite well defined policy (i.e. it can be only used to look-up job-related stuff, read/download job-related e-books, etc.) in a company where I work, but there's nothing said about after-work hours.

I often have to stay at workplace for some extra hours (waiting for code review, test results, etc.), which are not paid. Is it appropriate to use internet to get non-job-related information (for example, I want to get driving license and I'd like to prepare for exams) during this time or should I stay with the policy, defined for work hours? Maybe I'd better ask for clarification this case in policy?

  • I thought these tags were the most suitable for this question. If there are others, edit tags, please. – Leri Jul 24 '13 at 7:22
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    "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission". Use good judgment and don't visit anything you won't be able to get forgiveness for afterwards. If they fire you for looking at driver's license info or stackexchange outside of working hours, they are putting the cart before the horse. – jmac Jul 24 '13 at 8:36
  • @JoeStrazzere There's not any written policy. I was told this when I started work and manager clearly stated work-hours. – Leri Jul 24 '13 at 11:51
  • @PLB - Ask for the written policy. If there isn't one then, go to the HR Department, and request one be generated. – Donald Jul 24 '13 at 12:43
  • @JoeStrazzere I guess, you are right and the best way for doing this is provided in Michael's answer. – Leri Jul 24 '13 at 13:09

I've worked in lots of places that have policies like that but none of which have been even remotely enforced - this is a question we can't really answer but observing your own workplace should be able to confirm what's appropriate.

Failing observing what others do then asking for clarification is probably the best option but try to do this casually, ie: catch your manager in the hall and:

"Hey, I'm staying late for something and I'll just be hanging around while i'm waiting for it to complete so do you mind if I use the time to browse the internet"

Asking formally in an email will probably get a straight No because it's trying to set precedent which no-one wants the hassle of doing.


They are concerned about several things with these types of policies:

  1. If you are looking at non-work related websites, then you are being paid for goofing off.
  2. If you are looking at stuff that might be illegal or offensive, then they are worried a co-worker will file a complaint.
  3. If you are looking at stuff that might be illegal or offensive, then they are worried the company might get in trouble by the authorities.
  4. If you are using a torrent you might be exposing the company files to unauthorized users.
  5. If you are congesting the resources of the company by streaming a movie, then legitimate users of the resource are impacted.

Late at night avoid numbers 2 & 3 (offensive), 4 (torrent). Make sure that you don't impact the legitimate users of the system (#5).

If you are there after hours performing work for the company and not getting paid then they can't really complain about #1. Having a non-work website up while waiting for some tests to finish or to provide background noise to keep you alert should be something you can explain.

I would not ask for permission in advance, especially if you are not being paid for those hours.

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    You should avoid all of those points except 1 should be avoided at all times. Streaming a movie is not apporiate use of your employeer's equipment nor is looking at offensive material. While there are legit uses of BitTorrent your employeer does want to pay you to seed Ubuntu at night. – Donald Jul 24 '13 at 12:47

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