Not On Company Time

The Wall Street Journal reported in a January 16 story titled Web Filters’ New Job: Protect the Network (subscription required) that corporate use of Web-filtering software has evolved from broad-brush blocking employee access to the “sinful six” — pornography, gambling, illegal activities, and hateful, violent, or tasteless content — to more fine-grained control. Companies are using filters to block work-time access to bandwidth-intensive sites (e.g. YouTube), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace), shopping sites (the article mentions a London office that allows access to shopping sites during lunch), sporting events (World Cup games) and other sites that don’t serve a corporate purpose. One wonders how a generation that grew up on AIM, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube will react.

7 Replies to “Not On Company Time”

  1. andrewco

    I agree with Daniel in respect to doing whatever one may please on break. However, with a world of booming internet pleasures (i.e. MySpace, Facebook, AIM), there will always be something new. If corporations place restraints on their workers, it basically tells them, we don’t trust you, you can’t go to these places. However, what I presume may be the best course of action for this is to not block these sites, for if the continue, that will just be a constant flow of blocking more, and more, and more, until basically the entire internet will be blocked. By not blocking these sites, and issuing a policy against going beyond a “refresher period” of no more than 5 minutes, you’re inevitably hurting the company with lack of productivity. Everyone needs to step back and take a deep breath every once in a while. This is common. If people are on break, they should be allowed to do WHATEVER they want, that is why it is a BREAK.

    Companies should have faith in their employees, because that is the foundation of the company, the people. By allowing full access during breaks, and allowing a “refresher” for a minimal period of 5 minutes or something, that would be a great form of relief for burned out workers. However, necessary restraints and punishments should be set to discipline repeat offenders, and those who abuse the “refresher period.”

  2. Daniel K

    I feel as if this would be a never ending debate because there are equally as many people that believe these sites to be a distraction, as there are those who find it simply a quick relief from a heavy workload. Either way, I believe that the best policy is one that allows these workers to get whichever relief method they prefer on their breaks; and during the work hours stay focused on the task at hand. If someone would require a form of relief beyond that during their break, I believe that is an issue to be taken up with management or their boss to avoid overall slacking.

  3. ludan

    I agree that allowing employees to go on sites like facebook and YouTube may be counterproductive, but it may also boost their loyalty and morale and provide an incentive for them to accomplish their jobs faster. If there were a cheap way for companies to regulate Internet usage (say you get kicked off certain sites if you stay on for more than 10 minutes every 1.5 hours) during busy hours, that would be the best. Afterall, people do need to fresh up their minds once in a while. And if employees are simply going onto those sites during downtime, then I see no point of blocking their access.

  4. jtannhau

    i disagree, whenever I log onto facebook I end up getting distracted and in the end feel I have wasted a lot of time. If I was unable to access these websites I feel I would have nothing better to do than my work, and in the end I would be more productive.

  5. apatidar

    I agree also. When I’ve done heavy studying, a quick 5-min break on Facebook helps clear my mind and give me the necessary refreshment I need to go back and complete my work efficiently. I’m sure employees who have been working for a continuous number of hours need such a break to just relax and sit back for awhile. I feel that by restriciting certain internet sites, the companies are putting the productivity of their employees in jeopardy. Also, company morale might decrease because employees may feel they are being punished, not to mention the work space will become a very stressful environment. And as stated above, if not the internet, employees will most definitely find another way to “entertain” themselves during work.

  6. armughan

    I agree. What must be kept in perspective is that workers often go to these sights to let out some steam. It creates a very fine line in assessing who is doing that and who has spent the better part of a day doing so. Companies will find that restricting such sights will tighten up their workers’ habits. But, the tendency to find a way to escape from the work environment once in a while will find another medium to emerge in. And this tech generation is capable of that much.

  7. vee87

    I think one important reason that companies want to use the filters is to keep professional work behavior in their workforce. If they allow such websites to be accessed during work time, they may feel that they are supporting counterproductive work behaviors since their workers could possibly spend too much time looking at these websites instead of working. Moreover, most companies want to promote morality. Many of these websites can feature some content that can be judged “obscene,” and companies may feel that by allowing their workers access to these websites, they would be supporting immoral behavior.

    Meanwhile, workers can argue that these websites could actually be used as resources for their companies. For example, if a worker has an old friend/classmate who may be of assistance to the company, Facebook can help the worker contact him or her. Moreover, workers can argue that companies should trust their workers. In other words, companies should trust that their workers will not abuse their allowance to access such websites and will not let these websites become too distractive.

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