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Forget Twitter bans, workplace chit-chat now a no-no13 Jan 2011 11:04 am

chitchat.jpgI get trying to stop your employees from surfing the Web for hours each day, checking Facebook updates or tweeting. I even get when a manager gets perturbed that a worker keeps text messaging a spouse or child when they should be finishing a project.

But a chit-chat ban?

I just got an email yesterday from a long-time reader HikingStick that’s got me scratching my head. He wrote…

“A senior executive where I work sent the following message after most people went home yesterday:”

To all employees - This is to inform each one of you that the company is beginning to more closely monitor personal web and cell phone/text usage as well as unnecessary chit chat during work hours whether or not a supervisor is in the immediate area!

Effective immediately, please refrain from spending work time on personal activities during the work day.

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

HikingStick was pretty upset with the email and for good reason. “Now, everyone is on edge and worried that any non-work talk will be considered ‘unnecessary chit chat’,” he wrote.

Alas, I emailed New York labor lawyer Hanan Kolko to ask if a chit-chat restriction was legal and he said, “as a general matter, yes.” But what is “unnecessary chit chat” anyway? Is it unnecessary chit chat if you ask you coworker where you should go for lunch, or if you want to find out if your cubicle mate’s sick kid is ok? (more…)

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