Could You Get Away With This at Work?
Many offices have erected large, formidable firewalls so their employees won't waste company time on sites like Facebook and MySpace -- let alone sites like Hustler or Playboy. Addressing this, Playboy has come out with a new website full of jokes, witty tips, and amusing videos gone viral, that its producers swear are suitable for the workplace. It's called TheSmokingJacket.com, after Playboy founder Hue Hefner's second favorite item of apparel, because his favorite -- Silk Pajamas (.com) -- was already taken.
"The Smoking Jacket isn't just something I like to wear around the mansion. It's Playboy's new safe-for-work website. Next to the mansion, it's the best hangout on the planet," says Hef. And it does seem to be full of content that the site's intended viewers, (25-34 year old males) can't seem to resist, including articles on how to indulge in hanky panky at work, with tips like "Never use your corporate e-mail" and "Make out in the stairwell." There are also articles on how to tell you've given up on attracting women ("A dilapidated ride" and "the presence of Velcro") and "This is why we love the '80s: Schwarzenegger hilarity + babes = best '80s video ever!"
Of course we've cleaned up those titles a bit, so AOL isn't the next site put off-limits by a firewall. But it does beg the question whether or not this type of site is appropriate viewing in a professional setting. Could it legally be considered soft-core pornography?
"Is the new Playboy site considered porn? Probably not, but I sure wouldn't spend a lot of time reading the articles at work if I wanted to keep my job," says Dallas attorney Clint David of David, Goodman & Madole. "Employers are really starting to police time wasting at the office. Many have loaded software on the company computers so they know exactly what sites their employees are visiting and how long they're spending on each site, and it's perfectly within their rights to spy on their employees because they own the computers."
In fact, Congress is working on making it illegal for federal employees to access pornography on their computers. This comes after top-level SEC employees were busted in April for surfing adult websites while the economy was crashing.
Whether or not employees are visiting porn sites, time wasting at work is a big issue. A Reuter's poll shows employees waste about 20 percent of their average day at work, and surfing the web for personal reasons is the top time-wasting activity, followed by socializing with co-workers, then conducting personal business.
The Smoking Jacket seems as if it could fit into all three time wasting categories. "The ideal is to be... the go-to site for those who are bored at work," Matt Gibbs, the lead producer of the site told an AP reporter. According to Playboy Editorial Director Jimmy Jellinek, much of the Playboy audience traditionally logs on after work, and they saw that they were missing a golden opportunity to reach guys when they're online the most: sitting at their desk, not working and sending e-mails to their friends.
Indeed, Playboy has a longstanding tradition of gleefully hopping over authority figures to nab the dangling carrot, but is The Smoking Jacket going a bit too far? What do you think?