A man standing in his office peers across the street into another building and sees something eye-catching. He tells coworkers, who encourage him to take a photo. The photo shows a man sitting at his desk viewing porn on his computer. The photo is uploaded to Instagram and goes viral. Even when the porn purveyor thought his private viewing party was secret, he was being watched.
Nielsen found 25% of working adults admit to looking at pornography on a computer at work. And 70 percent of all online pornography access occurs between 9 AM and 5 PM. It's clear that workplace porn viewing is a common occurrence.
In fact, two of three HR professionals said they have found pornography on employees' computers. (Source.)
Does pornography viewing affect work productivity? An Australian governmental body believes so; it ruled recently that distributing hard-core porn at work is grounds for dismissal, even if the employee was not aware of such policies. Pornography viewing lowers productivity and can lead to even more serious issues. Not looking at porn at work is supposed to be common sense, according to the ruling.
George N. Collins, a recovering porn addict and author of "Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame" told CNBC "for a porn devotee, almost everything else takes a back seat." Collins's addiction to pornography negatively affected him -- not only in reduced earnings but career advancement, positive job movements, and even business relationships. He estimates that his compulsion cost over $500,000 in wasted time.
Pornography cannot exist in the workplace if high levels of productivity are desired. It distracts workers from their jobs and has the potential to offend other employees if they happen to catch a glimpse.
In addition, pornography websites pose a security risk because there are often links intended to infect a computer with malware. Causing a work computer to be infected with malware by shirking responsibility and looking at porn should be grounds for dismissal. The total IT cost of defending and cleaning-up after such incidents can be daunting.
Looking at pornography also desensitizes the viewer, which can, potentially lead to sexual harassment and the violation of workplace boundaries.
If you are having problems with employees looking at porn in the workplace, consider banning, or at a minimum, instituting a content filtering policy. You can set web filters to block websites not related to work. You can set filters to block porn sites or any other inappropriate materials.
To avoid surprising employees and instigating potential lawsuits, consider adding a no-porn policy to the company handbook. Indicate that sending or forwarding pornography, or viewing it on a workplace computer or mobile device can be considered sexual harassment.
Assure others they will not be dismissed for reporting incidents of coworkers viewing pornography on the job.
It comes down to this: you're not paying employees to look at porn, you're paying them to work. Encourage them to work.