Ok, I’ll admit that this is the lamest musical reference I’ve ever used in a title. Please forgive me. Today as I sat in my office, door open, typing an e-mail to a friend, a co-worker walked up to my door to ask a question. I left the e-mail up on the screen. I wasn’t writing anything scandalous or to anyone suspicious so I wasn’t too worried about the person seeing it. That got me to thinking about computer screen privacy and etiquette in the workplace, libraries, or coffee houses. Recently there has also been a commercial featuring an airline passenger using his laptop while his seat neighbors sneak peeks at the screen. My question is, if a person is using a computer in a public place such as those I’ve mentioned above, are we obligated to look away?
I know I find it almost irresistible to sneak a peek when I walk through my office and I see someone with their Yahoo or Hotmail on the screen. It’s not that I’m especially nosey or that I think my co-workers have anything to hide, I just seem to feel physically drawn to the screen as if it has it’s own gravitational pull. I don’t know why. If I was a cartoon character my eyes would do that thing (aaaah..ooooga!)where they project right out of my head. In fact, I’m considering laser eye surgery just so I can read people’s computers from a quarter mile away. I assume I’m not unusual in this irresistible urge. I’ve come up with a handy way to use this urge against others and to my advantage. I simply keep a fake e-mail minimized at the bottom of my screen and if anyone approaches I maximize it for them to “accidentally” read over my shoulder as I speak with them. Here’s what it says:
Dear (insert name corporate executive here),
Last night was wonderful. I hope we can do it again soon. Especially that trick you did with your…,well, you know (wink). I also hope you will take what I said into consideration. We can’t go on just ignoring the behavior of one co-worker to the detriment of the entire office. I fear that their shoddy work is going to harm the image of the company at some point and publicly embarrass us all. I know you don’t want to fire someone yet, so we’ll wait and see if they improve. No one suspects that I’m reporting to you, so for now I can continue to keep you informed. We just have to make sure that we behave as if we don’t know each other whenever you come into the office. Until next time….
I also make sure to type it in at least 16 point so that’s it’s easy reading for any nosey co-worker. It works like a charm. Everyone is friendly to me and productivity in the office is way up. Occasionally someone even brings me cookies.