I recently came across this article by Perry Binder in the Atlanta Business Journal discussing whether or not companies should allow their employees to blog. Binder's take on personal blogs is simple - as he puts it... "Let 'em blog."
Many workers have the innocent, yet misguided, notion that what they do on their time with their home computer is their business. But in most states, employees can be fired for virtually any reason unless they are union members or allege the firing violated a discrimination statute.
So when a company spends a fortune creating and promoting its brand, should it guard that identity by instituting a no-blogging policy, or allow workers the freedom to discuss company life online? My answer is a resounding "Let 'em Blog!" for two reasons -- money and morale.
Binder goes on to explain that the explosion of online information, especially among the under-30, Generation Y group, has made blogging a mainstream communication tool. If corporations prohibit blogging, Binder contends, they are eliminating a (basically) free advertising stream.
Of course, Binder doesn't believe that employees should be able to blog freely, sharing corporate secrets and harassing other employees. No, he believes, instead, that a well-written policy encouraging blogging, but setting pragmatic guidelines, is a much better approach. If a company prohibits blogging altogether, they end up with a disgruntled employee base, and it only takes one disgruntled employee to create an anonymous blog slamming the employer (see HouBlog for an example of a very angry employee with an anonymous blog).
Over the past several years, employees have found themselves out of jobs because of items posted on their personal blogs. The Boston Globe ran a story last year about how personal blogs are scrutinized by potential employers, and last July TimesOnline ran an expose of an English secretary in Paris who was fired for her personal musings, which included information about her work and her struggles as a single mother. It seems like everyone wants to blog, but no one is really interested in losing their livelihood because of it.
I have my own personal blog, and it's a great way for me to keep people informed about my family and our goings-on. But I'm a political gal, and I have some political rants on my personal blog. Until recently, when I rejoined the workforce after a child-rearing hiatus, the only person to whom I had to answer when I posted something questionable was my mother. "Katie, I read your webpage today, and I think you need to reconsider whether using that word is appropriate. Your mother reads that, you know."
Nowadays, I have to think about whether or not what I post will embarrass me or my employer. And, I really, really like my job, and would prefer to keep it for a long, long time. So I will stop and think before I post things on my personal blog. As Enterprise 2.0 starts its takeover, the lines between home and work are blurring, and the blur starts with the blog.