He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake

HR experts Jaluch warn that employees should beware that Big Brother is coming to town this Christmas

Articles about proper behaviour at Christmas parties and warnings about not drinking too much or making advances on colleagues abound at this time of year. But, warns HR consultancy Jaluch, in our current culture of social media and CCTV, appropriate behaviour is about a lot more than just making sure you don’t misuse the office photocopier after one too many glasses of sherry. Despite numerous warnings about privacy issues, 25% of facebook’s 500 million users do not set any privacy controls, and many more are confused by the options presented to them. People seem unaware, for example, that even if they keep their comments tightly controlled amongst their friends, those same friends could still share their comments with a wider network. This means that any comment about calling in sick to work because of a hangover, for example, or mocking the behaviour of colleagues at the party could easily get back to your boss. Helen Clarke, CEO of Jaluch says, “Employers have to be sensible. It’s unfair to think that they have the right to monitor their employees around the clock. However, anything posted on the internet does have the potential to ultimately harm a company’s brand or working relationships within a team and so people should be aware that they cannot truly expect privacy if they share their thoughts via social media. There may be consequences to posting their thoughts and actions online. Today’s mobile technology means that people can take pictures and post them online instantaneously, but those postings which may seem hilarious in the heat of the moment may cause long term damage to an individuals career or a company’s reputation.” Pictures via social networks are just the tip of the iceberg. People who may decide to break away from the main office party to indulge in festive celebrations with close and trusted colleagues may not have a facebook hangover to fear, but may still be caught on one of the UK’s 4.2 million CCTV cameras, or by one of the Google Street View vans which patrol 95% of the UK’s streets. It seems that it’s not just Father Christmas who is sorting out who’s naughty and who’s nice this time of year – there are a whole network of cameras and computers which could catch out an office party misdemeanour. Helen Clarke adds: “Of course people should let their hair down this time of year, but people should be aware that at a Christmas party, they are to a certain extent representing their company wherever they are. It doesn’t mean people can’t have fun, it just pays to be careful to make sure that unfortunate pictures and comments don’t linger online longer than a bad hangover.”