Online dress codes for avatars should be enforced by employers

Employers should enforce online dress codes for avatars used by their workers, IT analysts have said.

As business use of social networking sites grows, IT specialists Gartner have predicted that by the end of 2013, 70% of businesses will have behaviour guidelines and dress codes for all employees using avatars as part of their work.

Avatars are two- or three-dimensional images used as visual representations of people on social networking sites.

James Lundy, managing vice-president at Gartner, said: “As the use of virtual environments for business purposes grows, businesses need to understand how employees are using avatars in ways that might affect the business or the business’s reputation.

“We advise establishing codes of behaviour that apply in any circumstance when an employee is acting as a company representative, whether in a real or virtual environment. Addendums specific to virtual environments can be added as required.”

The IT analysts warned an avatar’s behaviour and appearance was seen as a reflection of the individual and the company they work for so employees should be given advice on reputation management, and employers could decide to tell workers to keep their personal and professional avatars separate.

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