Richard Maun – Working Ethically In The Digital Space

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Working Ethically In The Digital Space

11 May 2014

One way to approach the subject of working ethically in the digital space is to pose the following useful question:

“Are you wearing trousers right now?”

Before you complain to you local MP, I’m not really that interested in your current trouser situation, it’s just that people can have different standards when Skyping clients and a recent straw poll unearthed a variety of approaches to dress codes. Personally I have always been properly trousered and wouldn’t dream of not being so. The question is still valid though as it invites us to account for the fact that digital working is still work. We need to make sure that we have a safe environment and that our method of working preserves confidentiality, for example.

The first rule of any work has to be ‘do no harm’ and if we are working with digital tools then we have to stop and think about and what the pitfalls could be…and I mean really think about it not just assume that all will be well. Consider the following situations:

1. If we text a client, could this be read by a partner or spouse?

2. When on Skype, what can the other person see in our working space?

3. If we are having an email conversation, is it secure, or could it be hacked?

4. Do people announce an impending meeting with us via Twitter and thus alert the world to the nature of our business?

5. When video-conferencing do we tell a third party that we are online when they wander into the room?

6. If we are based in the UK and Skyping a client in Poland, does our insurance cover us for this work? Also, are there any local laws in Poland that could cause our client an issue (think about the consequences of revealing homosexuality in parts of Africa)?

…Before we press ‘send’ on an email, or a text, or a Whatsapp message let’s stop and pause and ask ourselves if this is the best way to be working and what could happen if the message was intercepted by the wrong person.

…Before we begin working in any digital space we can stop and make sure that we have a robust contract with the other party, so that issues are out in the open and we know what we can and cannot do.

So, this week take a fresh look around your office, study, or working space and notice all the items that are on view to a person Skyping in. What’s hanging over that radiator? What is tucked up on a high shelf that we have forgotten about? What is on the wall behind us?

We can work effectively in the digital space and we can be ethical and safe too – complete with our trousers on!

Next week: Out Out And Taste the Air!


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