My company recently instituted partial ban of Internet access at workplace by blocking sites which were deemed ‘unproductive’. These included Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket, online games sites and P2P (peer-to-peer) sites.
Banning of Internet access at workplace is hardly new. Employees abusing company resources is a known fact. But is banning Internet access, or blocking of certain sites, a solution?
For a start, YouTube may not be as unproductive as some may think. Many product demonstrations are now on the popular video sharing site. Facebook, with the ubiquitous ‘Like’ button, is a great marketing tool. (Imagine that if you ‘like’ a product, all your 1,288 friends will be notified.) These sites, when put to good use, can be extremely beneficial to all businesses. And I don’t think it is wise for the management to tell us:
OK, now we have advertised on Facebook. We will lift the ban for one hour. All of you please go to ‘like’ our products.
The fact that my employer is in IT industry further complicates the matter. Just the other day, a co-worker of mine was doing a ‘stress test’ through the means of YouTube video-download and P2P movie-download.
Internet ban at workplace also has unwanted impacts in human resource development. Why, do you think, is Google so creative? This is because the Internet search giant gives considerable freedom to its staff.
So, should employers block access to those seemingly unproductive web sites? There are no hard-and-fast rules, but this is my suggestion to the management:
If you want your staff to be efficient, ban is an option.
If you want your staff to be creative, then do not ban.
P/S I may get a smart phone to circumvent the ban.