We have our own personal codes of conduct – how we chose to behave in our day to day life. Our personal codes of conduct will determine what types of information we are happy to post online, how we will talk to others online and what we will or will not download. For some people, their personal code of conduct may mean that they regularly break the law by illegally downloading music or films.
Companies cannot risk that their employees might break laws, lose important data or damage the reputation of the company so they establish codes of conduct.
Formal Code of Conduct
These are essentially a set of rules that must be adhered to. Employees will normally be expected to adhere to these rules as part of their employment contract. They may even include rules about how employees act outside of work.
Informal Code of Conduct
Rather than a written set of rules, these are expectations that are established by the behaviour of others in the workplace. If all staff log off their computers and lock doors behind them, then other staff will usually follow their lead. Even though a written rule may not be in place, informally this becomes and expectation in the workplace.
To ensure that users comply with rules in the organisation a number of systems can be put in place:
- Policies – An acceptable usage policy could be established stating how computers could be used.
- Monitoring – Managers could monitor users on a network, this could be using software (like Net Support in school) or simply by watching what the users do.
- Contracts – A code of ethics could be part of the employees contract; if they do not abide by the code, they could lose their jobs.
- Access Rights – Users can be given different levels of access to prevent them from accessing or editing files that they are not allowed to.