Long before everyone had a mobile - I worked for a company that suddenly announced that we couldn't use office phones to make personal calls. There had never been an official policy on personal phone usage - this was an international company with a very relaxed culture. We worked hard and were successful. This edict came after the company received huge bills for international calls made after office hours to countries where we did not operate. The announcement caused a storm and the decision to prevent us making that quick call to the bank or to let someone know we were going to be late home felt petty. Eventually the rule was relaxed and then dropped but trust had been damaged. What worries me about this ruling is if it is used indiscriminately to either snoop on people or as a way to imply people are not productive. We can not turn back the clock on the blurring of our work and personal lives in a digital age and as employers we need to talk to our teams and seek clear agreement on what is or is not expected in work time.
Private messages at work can be read by European employers By Kevin Rawlinson BBC News 14 January 2016 From the section Technology 1219 comments Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Employers must put policies in place to protect workers from widespread snooping Employers can read workers' private messages sent via chat software and webmail accounts during working hours, judges have ruled. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said a firm that read a worker's Yahoo Messenger chats sent while he was at work was within its rights. Judges said he had breached the company's rules and that his employer had a right to check on his activities. Such policies must also protect workers against unfettered snooping, they said.