One of the truly great things about the Internet is the ability to quickly find reliable answers to questions as they pop into our heads. (In fact, it may have been a Google search related to work and cancer that lead you to Cancer and Careeers!) And while it can be very useful to have instant information about things like dealing with chemo brain at work or ways in which nutrition can help manage treatment side effects, it’s important to remember that researching cancer-related topics online while at your job can lead to unintended workplace disclosure.
First, employers are entitled to review all communications conducted during working hours on company equipment — including browser searches. Discovering that a staff member has a long string of Bing searches related to cancer may lead to unexpected, uncomfortable conversations. It’s helpful to keep this in mind as well if your doctor is in the habit of leaving voicemail messages on your work phone or sending emails to your work address.
It’s also important to note that software is becoming better and better at tracking our online behavior for marketing purposes. Remember the time you checked out a pair of shoes on Zappos and they started “magically” following you around the Internet? That same “magic” may result in cancer-related advertisements popping up at inconvenient times — such as when your boss or coworker has stopped by your cubicle to discuss a current project.
In other words, when deciding how, where or even if you want to share your cancer story either at work or online, take a moment to consider your browser-search behavior as well.
And be sure to check out the following CAC resources for more on disclosure and online brand: