IBM is cautioning employees that its personal conduct guidelines extend beyond corporate headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., and satellite offices around the world -- they also apply in virtual worlds like Second Life.
In the latest sign that corporate America is serious about virtual reality as a place to conduct business, IBM has issued a series of 11 Netiquette guidelines for workers that spend time in SL and other virtual environments where they might interact with the public.
One guideline stipulates that employees must "Protect your -- and IBM's -- good name." It tells workers to "assume that activities in virtual worlds and/or the 3-D Internet are public -- much as is participation in public chat rooms or blogs."
Another says workers need to "Protect others' privacy." The guideline notes that "it is inappropriate to disclose or use IBM's or our clients' confidential or proprietary information -- or any personal information of any other person or company... within a virtual world."
Yet another guideline says, "Be truthful and consistent." It tells employees that it's important to "build a reputation of trust" in virtual worlds.
The guidelines also remind employees that IBM's HR policies apply in virtual worlds: "If you encounter an inappropriate situation in a virtual world which you believe to be work-related, you should bring this to the attention of IBM."
An IBM spokesman said Friday that the growing use of virtual environments for business activities is what prompted the company to establish the guidelines.
"Whether it's suggesting to our people how they protect their privacy and identity in the 3-D Net, or how to protect intellectual property, ours or our customers', some kind of 'rules of the road,' even at this early milepost, makes sense," the spokesman said.