The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has today called on employers to reconsider outright bans that have been slapped on popular web time-killers Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. While legal, the embargos are an "over-reaction" to the rise of social networking, according to the unions. Intstead, clear policies should be agreed which …
What a fucking joke. It's just so the unions can look trendy and with the times.
Prehaps they misunderstand what these websites actually are. There's a whole host of issues, with my biggest one being security.
Staff can easily spend more time on social networking sites than actually working
Security is an obvious issue, such as blogs and spaces that could have malicious code on them
And finally it's not exactly optimum use of company bandwidth now is it
Justification for having access? Um, none.
If there is no or little business benefit in providing a service, yet there is a security risk involved then why bother?
trade unions dont do themselves any favours
Already we have a view of trade unions as the voice of the lazy man, who would rather strike than work.
We do not ban these sites in my company only because we work with facebook on a development level, but if i had my way they would be banned.
My company = my office = my computers = my resources = my time.
Get on with some bloody work you work shy, uncompetitive wasters and save socialising for outside work hours! Or alternatively we could just outsource to a more competitive and work oriented country in the far east.
We have it easy here already without the TUC making us even less competitive.
Now normally, I'm all for the rights of the workers over the evil capitalist overlords, but this is just silly. Of course employees have a right to a life outside work, they just need to work on having that life outside of work rather than playing on facebook all day.
 Obviously, techies playing on El Reg all day is *quite different*.
 And just in case of anyone who enjoys missing points, please add your own virtual "joke alert" graphic to this comment.
Have the unions got nothing better to do (like secure peoples pensions and working conditions and other union type stuff) than talk about this sort of crap?
If people want to use company bandwith on the likes of Facebook/Friends re-united/bebo/other crap then let them also share the costs. My compant pay a lot for new access for work use, why should they have to share this with stupid social networking sites? It's busy enough with normal work stuff and dealing with microsoft updates.
And as for letting employees have a life outside work then not a problem, they can arrange and have it outside work. Work is for working not arranging outside work stuff, that for outside work time. Sheeesh!!!
The art of reading...
If you had read the article correctly, you might have noted that it quite clearly states "during break times". Not, "during the normal working hours, outside of lunch-times and other organised breaks" like the two previous comments seem to think they do.
Jeremy, I can only be thankful that I do not work for you. You sound like you have no respect for your employees and using phrases such as "uncompetetive wasters" would make me want to severely punch you in the face. If you want a robot, go buy a robot.
The argument isn't that people want to be able to be work-shy or lazy, it's that allowing employees the freedom and giving them the trust to use Social Networking sites, makes for a happier, possibly more productive employee. It's a question of balance more than anything....
I'm with the unions on this one
Fortunately I work in a place where there are no such restrictions. But it really annoys me when some of my colleagues spend up to 2 hours a day chatting in the office when I'm working. Why is that acceptable and five minutes spent on Facebook (or wherever else) not?
Provided employees are doing the work they're paid for, hitting their deadlines etc., there's no need to impose such restrictions. It hardly makes them feel valued and trusted, does it? Such actions only serve to worsen employer-employee relations and as a result probably do very little to improve productivity.
As a big facebooker but also network supporter...
There is no reason to allow facebook at work! We recently blocked it after a report on our internet traffic showed far too much going to and from facebook at all times of the working day. The TUC have said staff should be trusted to only access it during breaks but the simple fact is, they can't! I use it when I get home which is where this kind of social internet use belongs.
I would like to hear someone in the TUC debate this with my Network infrastructure manager!
we use quite a good compromise for this, all of the work machines are really restrictive on what sites they let you on to, ie. no social networking, no utube, no webmail, no forums, etc. (Luckily it still allows el reg!)
but in a room attached to the canteen there are some specific internet machines, ie they are completely isolated from the company network, and have far less retrictive filtering on them. This solves most of your security problems, as they are isolated, as well as stopping your staff from wasting their day on facebook, cos they have to actually leave their desk to do it so can't pretennd to be working.
People chatting in the coridor don't pose a security risk from trojans and giving away the company secrets to everyone on the net (Unless someone has bugged your office).
@The art of reading...
Thanks for taking the trouble to point that out. Unfortunately it's the likes of Jeremy who are keeping tired old dinosaurs like the TUC going rather than the mythical "work shy, uncompetitive wasters" who he thinks make up the British workforce.
If he's still serious about employers bean-counting every last electron that flows down their telecomms infrastructure, I can see who'll be the first to complain should the employees reciprocate the goodwill by clock-watching.
Web hipster and TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Simply cracking down on use of new web tools like Facebook is not a sensible solution to a problem, which is only going to get bigger.
One major issue with this is that Facebook is not a tool, most of its' user are tools but that is beside the point. Facebook is a social website for people to chat and discuss all manner of crap, it is not a business tools that can be used to generate revenue and profit, unless you own it.
"It's unreasonable for employers to try to stop their staff from having a life outside work, just because they can't get their heads around the technology."
No one is saying that employers are trying to stop staff from having a life outside work, it just seems that employers don't want to pay staff for having a life in work and not doing what they are supposed to be paid for. Smart people don't let work encroach on their home life and vice versa, and smart bosses do the same.
And to that person who was on BBC 1 this morning who said that it was more of a management issue that people were abusing it, than the employees issue, I say this, people who abuse a position of trust and the tools they are given deserve to be disciplined. Once they are you at the TUC can get involved and try to argue the case then. Making stupid, ill conceived and irresponsible statements such as these only diminish the percption of the TUC in the eyes of every employer.
re: the are of reading
i hate people like you. so Right On, yet so utterly out of touch with reality. fact is that outside work related issues, the internet at work is a privilege. do you honestly believe people will use facebook only on breaks? office work is so crushingly tedious employees will do absolutely anything for a distraction.
here at Boredham Unlimited we have two machines in the canteen which allow unrestriced access to networking sites, only two machines for IS to keep an eye on, only accessed during breaks. problem solved.
you, my workshy chum, need a sharp rap upside the head with a rolled up guardian.
I will not
1 Be dictated to as to what web site I visit. they have tryed to tell people what site is allowed even when at home.
2 Be told i cant have my Mobile phone (some try to get employees to leave them with security or not bring them to work in the first place.
3 be told well anything of a personal nature by an employer.
If they dont like it i see no point in working there.
BTW I now run my own business
@the anonymous pro-facebook crowd
The workplace is a place for doing work. I would have thought that was a no-brainer. Staff cannot be trusted to only access these sites at break times, regardless of any written policy you try to put in place. You can argue against that fact if you wish, but since Ive seen the internet logs for various schools and colleges and several public organisations, you'll be peeing into the wind.
The company you work for is not and should not be responsible for helping you maintain your social life. And besides the time-wasting aspect, the security concerns regarding these sites should be more than enough justification for any organisation to block them.
Hey, I work from home - so unlike you poor unfortunate corporate cube-dwellers I can easily spend my day surfing porn, chatting and downloading whatever I want.
I don't have to commute, or even get dressed.
I still get paid loads too.
Company policy and enforcement
Any company has the right to dictate, within resaon, what an employee can and cannot do when they are on the clock (being paid). Any employee can disagree with this policy by not working there, or like Mike, working for themselves.
If the company policy was that you can spend time on Facebook/Bebo/Myspace but the time spent must be made up at home, at your cost, using your machine, your bandwidth and your communications facilities, how many employees would cry foul.
Part of the mechanics of any business is a return on investment.
Is people chatting to friends instead of customers a return on the investment of training those people?
Is people browsing social networking sites a return on the costs paid for internet bandwidth and the hardware being used to do it?
Anyone coming from a reasonable point of view will admit that although some leeway is given for the odd browsing activity or such like can be overlooked, but by the same token, people spending hours not doing what they get paid for is just plain wrong.
A question to Mike though; if you are, within your own business, employing staff, and those staff spend more time chatting on their phones, and browsing the internet at your expense, rather than making you money, would you sack them? If they spend 10% of the time in which you pay them doing that instead of making you money, would you be happy about it?
Lets face it, people work to make money, anything that is a cost to them is a bad thing unless it is providing a superior return on investment and I cannot see anyone arguing with that. If you do argue the opposite, can you send me the money you don't want or need, that you can happily waste on these people.
Bet your old employers are glad to see the back of you!
@jeremy and others who say social networking is a waste of time
So social networking sites are not allowed, as it is taking up your computers, your bandwidth, your time - but commenting on a news article isn't a problem!?
Really you should be able to trust your employees to use their time sensibly - I'm sure there have been plenty of articles saying that you be most productive when you take regular brakes from your work - so what is better for the employee, spending 5mins at their desk catching up with their friends via [social site] or spending 15mins outside, away from their desk, with a cancer stick in their mouth?
I can read, actually...
If we're talking about "break times", that's actually a little difficult to enforce. It is possible with various web filtering products to set time limits and quotas for particular sites, but a little more difficult to detect when any given user is on an actual break. Looking at our web statistics, facebook is now the most visited site - significantly more than the business-related site that *used* to be on top.
We're considering much the same plan that Andy S mentions - it seems like a viable solution...
Tabbed Browsing... multi tasking
We used a dual screen setup at work and combine that with tabbed browsing and multi tasking, I could be on facebook while having my mail open and writing reports/documentation and researching at the same time. I got the work done and to a good standard too. I didn't hide my browsing and if there was a concern or problem, then someone would have taken me up on it!
Sure I sent alot of messages on facebook, but if your going to eliminate facebook then you should do the same to bebo, myspace, MSN and everything else that is a 'distraction' too. Oh, about websites that allow you to check and book flight times (surely that should ONLY be done by trained company professionals or over the phone). Oh, also personal insurance websites, personal banking, hmmmm, what else, oh, regular workers shouldn't be allowed to reach The Reg or any other 'news' website. They could have a shocking headline that could distract them and prompt talk in the workplace. SHOCK HORROR!
If you say you can't trust them, impose restrictions on the firewall to allow staff to access those domains between 12noon and 2pm (allowing for flexible lunch).
As for the TUC, well, obviously it went through the internal procedures/motions to get this far, therefore its acceptable. If you don't like them, then don't be part of them.
Security wise... facebook has a different API to myspace and doesn't allow the same scope for the complete crap and balls that runs AUTOMATICALLY on most people's myspace pages.
You could completely skin myspace to your heart's desire... you can't on facebook, yet its exploded and is growing very impressively. Alot of myspace users that I know that moved to facebook have done actually that, they have 'moved' to facebook. They all claim it to be far better! (it also has less streaming content and fewer annoying graphics that load without your consent, yes some profiles have that stuff, but you can restrict and block bits or just not click on them, you can't easily 'not load' all the big photos and graphics on a myspace page!).
So everyone commenting here is at home, yes?
I assume everyone complaining about Facebook users is at home, and not on company time right now?
And don't give me all that "but the Reg is an industry site, I need to read it to keep up-to-date" rubbish.
Thanks for the reply there 'Dan'... I'm so very glad you pointed out I was out of touch with reality... I hadn't realised this until now.. Working in a major city, for a major corperation, dealing with issues like this daily, I obviously had no authority to speak on the subject!
Also, you'll notice I didn't specify that each users machine should have unrestricted access, infact, I very much back the idea of having certain machines dedicated to allowing personal browsing during break times. Which if you read my reply again, fits kind of nicely into what I said people should be allowed..
You will hopefully note in my reply to you, I didn't call you workshy or unable to spell. Good day to you.
@mike "I will not"
Perhaps when you get to the stage of EMPLOYING staff and being responsible for the costs involved, you might change your self-centred stance on time wasting.
At a place of employment you are using:
1) COMPANY EQUIPMENT - i.e., it is NOT yours to do as you wish with, to install whatever virus ridden / trojan laden software you feel like and then come to the IT helpdesk demanding immediate fixes and help.
2) COMPANY NETWORK - a company network, i.e. it's Internet network connection is NOT an unlimited, free-for-all-to-use resource. There's set bandwidth limits and, especially these days, much more important uses for it than personal access. Most reasonable employers will pay a subsidy for home Internet access if it is used regularly for business purposes, so would you like to pay to use the office network when you use it for personal purposes?
3) COMPANY TIME - while it is possible to limit access to certain parts of the Internet to set time periods during the day, this is not a flexible technology - take your lunch late because you were working on a important deal and you'll miss the slot for access. This is not acceptable or fair. However in reality (and as already pointed out), a huge majority of staff, if given the opportunity, will access such time wasting sites during work hours and not breaks. Of course, you could whinge that it's the management's fault for not checking on every single employee every second of every day, but then management typically have better things to do than that.
Or would you advocate a "policy" where it's perfectly acceptable for employees to use the company phone system when they feel like to make personal calls for as long as they want? This is what you're effectively saying is OK.
...as for Mobile Phones, well this is another issue - if a lot of staff are abusing mobiles (note, there is no "right" to use a mobile phone during office hours), then the only solution is to attempt to ban them. This said, more reasonable employers either allow them as long as they're not interruptive to work or just on silent.
The key word is fairness. While there is the argument that businesses expect a return on investment, so far nobody has mentioned that businesses cannot survive without human beings running it - and those human beings often have needs that need to be looked after during business hours. Can you tell me, hand on heart, that you've never had to visit a bank during your working day?
Social networking is not simply a matter of "leave it until you get home". As a member of a social networking site (meetin.org), I know from experience that sometimes you can see a meetup event posted and want to RSVP for it or ask for more info. If the event is happening just after you finish work, it's too late to ask then. Does that give me justification to sit on the site all day? No. Should I be banned from such a site? Depends on whether you want me to clock-watch.
As an employee I wish I actually had *more* work. I've worked for a succession of bad employers (all whom paid me a lot of money) with very crap managers who did not know how to manage, and I ended up doing very little work. My last contract, for example, paid me nearly £100k per year and kept me very idle. There's only so many times you can go to your manager and ask for more work, before you realise it's not coming. If it hadn't been for the Web (which, incidentally, I'm thoroughly bored of), I'd have gone mad sitting in front of a desk for eight hours per day with bugger all to do.
Sometimes it's not cut-and-dried. I'm writing this from work now, and I'm still gagging for some corporate action ... but there's nothing going on. So I'm here. Maybe I need to find a career outside IT - then, at least, I might have something to engage my brain with - other than El Reg and various other sites that help to keep me sane.
I'll not stand for anyone calling me work-shy, by the way. I've worked in the past for better managers, and I've been up at 3:00am in the morning for them to get some critical IT work out of the way before business begins. For other project-critical work, I've even done 26-hour stretches in the office - without compensation in kind. But these kind of heroics only come for the best managers - people who know what they're doing. In the world of IT, I've noticed these types are a dying breed...
As a result of this, I am going into business for myself next year. And no, it will be nothing to do with IT. :)
I had to read your post again because for a split second I thought you placed banking activities on the same level as "social networking" sites. Then I realized you did and I spent the next three minutes laughing until I cried. I created this great picture of you in my mind of a mid-twenties help desk tech at a tiny company who feels mistreated because he hasn't received the chance to get away from the help-desk because he spends all his time whining about fairness.
Buddy I hate to break it to you but no manager appreciates 26 hour stints at work. Part of being a good employee is being able to manage your workload in a normal work environment. Staying at the office for "as long as it takes" isn't special. It may be loyal but it ain't worth much. (this is outside liability and legal issues from working that long in a non critical/lifesaving role).
A lot of the posts I've seen here are obviously written by those using facebook and such at work. They have the time to do this because they are in minor roles and it probably doesn't hurt anything but the principal still applies. If you've got spare time at work find something to do and help out. You are at work to help the company and if you don't feel that way you need to look for a company that you can feel good working all day for. I would like to see these guys spend a few months in a real management role. They would be eaten alive by the staff.
Bet your old employers are glad to see the back of you!
demand the right to watch porn at work?
if you work for somewhere you abide by what they want you do with their time and equipment. or quit.
this is the bit that made me smile :
"It's unreasonable for employers to try to stop their staff from having a life outside work, just because they can't get their heads around the technology."
I was not aware employers *were* trying to stop a life outside work, just trying to get ppl to to organise the outside work life, outside work [he said while using his work laptop in the office on the office lan to type this...... pot and kettle i know.....]
judging by your post, you would be a pain to work for, if you would see somebody effort at going the extra mile to get stuff done as being bad workoad management, then your a bit nucked up!! in some org's hitting deadlines can be hard and require heroics in managing what is after all a giant herd of cats, when it comes to ensuring everybody is free to have conf calls, face to face meetings supply information, esp if they are not in your team and thier priorities are different and most inportantly they do not answer to you, or your mgmnt structure.
Esclations can SOMETIMES be more of hassel than helpful
sometimes you have crises which can not be left alone at 17:30 to be picked up at 09:00 the next day, Sometimes said crises impact on what your curently working on, now yes you can say ok fair enough i'll pick that up another day, it does really depend on your work state of mind, you may decide it is easy and have less impact on future work to JFDI there and then at 18:45
I would also say to you it's not always about workload management but expectation management,
and i would hate to break it to you buddy my boss loves me and respects for the extra effort i put in, which has resulted in lot's of time off in lieu, even a paid holiday in miami as long as i aranged a meeting, a nice big fat payrise. and lot's of playful slaps on the wrist for working to play catch up after having had loads of addtional work dumped on me, by said boss. It's swings and roundabouts buddy.
Sometimes when you are busy, spending 5 minutes distractiing yourself helps re-focus your attention, like when i go for a ciggie, or make a cup of coffee or jump on to el reg to read a news piece or two and make a long ramberling comment such as this.
you lucky lot...
My day job involves working face-to-face with customers in a busy retail environment - no access to computers, and if I want to surf t'internet on my breaks I have to use my mobile.
Oh yeah - I've been banned from going anywhere near the computers in Admin after I (jokingly) threatened to install Doom on the bar-code scanners, which run WinCE.
Raheim, I was surpised by the content of your post. The writer of 'Fairness' was one of the few on here to get their point across in a well-written and reasonable manner.
The nature of a large number of IT roles(incidently, including those higher up in the food chain, despite your comment about others on here having the time to do this because they are in minor roles) dictates that, occasionally, long stints at work and unsociable hours whilst managing a crisis situation are absolutely necessary, despite the fact that "Staying at the office for "as long as it takes" isn't special." On these occasions, it's called doing your job and is what you are paid for.
With regard to the facebook debate, I agree that whilst at work, being paid to work, that is what you should be getting on with. It's a simple contract - your employer gives you money, and in return you give them your time. However, I see no reason why employees should be restricted from using certain networking sites during breaks and lunch hours.
...this must be the comments section with the highest number of anonymous posts I've seen in a while. I wonder why... :O)
breaks and lunch hours
" I see no reason why employees should be restricted from using certain networking sites during breaks and lunch hours."
Apart from the 'Security' word, of course. Depending on the particular industry you're in. Which seems to have completely escaped the TUC.
Time tunnel to the 70s
I see there seems to be a few people here who class their wages as appearence money.
Firstly Mike I assume that you are unemployed (if you are not then you deserve to be), sure why not run a warez site from work while you are at it !
As a network analyst I can assure you that if I had my way Bebo and youtube would be banned, everyday we get complaints from remote offices complaining that their network is slow and people can't get doing what theyre paid to do.
Every time we check the usage we find bebo and youtube as the main offenders (except for one scottish site where it ws limewire).
However we are not alowed to block sites incase we are accused of censorship, even though it prevents the responsible humans from doing their jobs.
On top of that I am tiref of dealing with peoples complaints that their home banking dosn't work through out proxies. Thats easy to solve, do you home banking from home you shiftless wastes of space.
Just because I can...
I've been masturbating all day over porno websites and getting paid to do it.
My Civil Service boss hasn't a clue what I do and is more than happy for me to "work from home".
Thank goodness I also get free eye tests & glasses :o)
WHAT'S ALL THIS THEN?
ALRIGHT YOU LAGGARDS! STOP ALL THIS COMMENTING AND GET BACK TO WORK! PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT MAN! (!Crack!)
Err lets be honest about this shall we?
How many staff in IT departments actually practice what we preach?
Naming no names but the company I am err associated with has and Unrestricted Internet group that the entire IT department and most of the board members are in.
Running a SurfControl report as I am want to do from time to time shows most of them are either on Facebook, doing there online betting or a wide variety of other business critical tasks.The plebs get the restricted Internet and regular reports run on them and then a ticking off from there line manager the IT staff and top management get to do what the hell they like and this is company time not breaks and lunches. The IT director on down know all about this and no one cares.
I am not preaching I admit I am myself included in this I would bet most of us here are in a similar situation.
Security and bandwidth
There is a solution to both of these issues, one of which has already been raised by one poster: Having separate, non-work related PCs. These can be kept clean (just run the browsing session under VMWare and wipe it every time someone logs off). No need to worry about viruses or other nastyware. Or even data hygeine - it's all wiped from session to session, so anything that does get on to it won't stay for very long.
Having separate PCs on a different subnet, using different firewall rules (all other machines you can just block from using the internet, period) - means it's easy to also throttle bandwidth. Not that bandwidth should be too much of a problem - if people have to visit a specific PC, they can't pretend to be working (as also said, earlier). If you also only have one internet PC per say, 100 employees, you've already managed to implement a 100:1 contention ratio, with no special configuration needed. :)
By the same token, providing a payphone on the company premises also sends the message that you understand that people may have to make personal calls from time to time, but that they should pay for them. You can easily configure phones to call extension numbers only (except for certain types like sales, account management, etc). The rest can use the payphones for external calls (although incoming calls, e.g. family emergencies, will reach them at their desk). Not everyone can use mobile phones effectively, by the way: I personally work two levels underground, where of course there is no mobile phone signal.
As for wages being appearance money, no I don't think so. I think it's a little more than that (something along the lines of "I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.") ;-) Seriously though, I take my work seriously - and I would support having internet access away from the desk - in an open-plan office, so you can see exactly who is using the internet machine, and when. But I would support having such a machine, in case an employee needs to arrange something personal during work hours.
To those who say work stuff is for during work time (with absolutely no exceptions), you must live very slow and relaxed lives. You must also think that any employee must be treated like a robot, for they cannot be allowed to have worries or separate lives. (Try having a serious unresolved argument with your wife/lover/girlfriend and then try concentrating on work. Just try it, and you'll see how hard it is to *really* separate work from personal stuff).
For the rest of us, who do not live in the same world as you, we often need to get things done quickly, solve personal and/or family problems - and during work hours. It doesn't mean that people should spend all day surfing the net, or yakking on the telephone: Ordinarily, they should be doing the job they are paid to do. But it does involve an understanding that not all employees' on site needs will be business-related. Good employers recognise this, while also limiting the potential losses caused by abuse of internet and phone facilities.
Responsability in the work place
I don't think that many people advocate banning everything, and nobody spends every second in work doing company tasks.
Half my weeks in work are on the graveyard shift, for the most part it's quiet and I can waste my time like this (as I can't read manuals and RFCs all night). All too often all hell breaks loose and my intervention saves my employers considerably more than my annual salary each time (I accept that I earn considerably less than the company benefits from my employment.)
When I am on days things are much busier (dealing with users and managers of other depts). I still have time to read the news online and check my personal emails during my breaks. I have no argument with that situation, I am here to work and my boss is cool about phone calls etc when I have issues that require attention.
However just because I am relatively responsable dosn't mean others are. Although it's one thing to allow users to maintain their personal life (to some extent) in work (ie receive calls fro home, check emails, and even to make a quick call to the bank)
I don't see why I should have to work on alleged fault calls (and my employers foot the bill) because somebody cant do their personal banking online, download from itunes (to their work machine), listen to internet radio or watch silly videos from Finland. If it dosn't work then accept the fact and carry out these leisure activitys at work.
Stuff like internet banking etc was to allow people to maintain their accounts outside of working hours !
Youtube, facebook, myspace et al are leisure persuits, I can confirm that my manager would be less than happy if I brought in some PCBs to etch in the kitchen area, or my shift partner brought in this Ford Prefect to respray on company time.
Nosey parkers/Satanic mills
Why don't all the whingers get a fkin life and keep their noses out of my leisure-time activities at work. What the hell has it got to do with you? Don't gimme all that I carry you all day sh1t. I do an 8 hour day in 6 hours and spend the other 2 doing whatever the hell I want. Just because you choose to drag it out (or are too tardy) and do a full 8 hours work, more fool you! You probably also drag out the getting home bit by sitting in the outside lane doing 65, tutting at me going past you in the inside lane. Take away my internet access, see if I care, I'll still find those 2 hours in my day to do whatever the hell I like. Remember, work to live not the other way around.
I wish someone would invent a device that measured the amount of physical and mental energy used in a days work, then we'd see who the slackers were and I'd get paid more than you for doing more work. I don't care what you do at work, I'm sure you are just trying to earn some money same as me, so keep the hell out of my business and keep your hypocritical observations to yourself, SHEESH!
Off topic, but can people also stop using 'there' for 'their'
Wow, how lame.
Social networking is a waste of everybodies time. But fortunately for me I find other ways to waste time. Since I spend anywhere from 55 to 70 hours a week working and I'm a salaried employee that means that I am spending an additional 15 to 30 hours of my personal time working. So if I waste 10% of my time doing non-work surfing the company is still ahead of the game.
Also I am a work from home employee so it's my bandwidth that is being used not the company's. The company's bandwidth is only being used when I connect to the company intranet.
So what do all of you work nazies have to say about that? I firmly believe that if you have enough time to keep track of what your fellow employees are doing then you don't have enough to do. Personally I'm too busy to worry about or keep an eye on my fellow employee.
Remember Morale = Productivity
As the IT manager of a publishing/web design company, I know exactly what the staff are doing, how much it costs us, and what we're making. We have a very laissez-faire approach to staff use of the company IT facilities, based on the philosophy of morale = productivity. Staff working under stress, constantly spied on and driven by whiplash management, are staff that clock-watch, take sickies, quarrel, and show poor customer service. Staff that are happy in their jobs and feel wanted and trusted perform much better. Our customers (mostly authors wanting to publish books or company execs wanting websites, reports and brochures done) are very canny and will pick up immediately if things are not well in the office. As one of our office pep-posters has it, "We want you to WANT to come to work!"
The approach we take here is that you have freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. Everyone here knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by, and as long as the work gets done on time there's no problem with people doing their own thing meanwhile. The only activities banned in our workplace are porn and piracy, for obvious reasons, but just about anything else is OK.
By showing this level of trust in our staff, maintaining openness and accountability, and making them aware of the importance of their roles in the company, we create an office culture in which everyone can see instantly who's pulling their weight and who's riding the gravy train. If work isn't being done, money stops and people lose their jobs. As a result, gravy-trainers get pulled aside and spoken to, not just by management but by their colleagues as well. Continue to freeload and you'll be shown the door. But if you keep ahead of your work, nobody objects to someone streaming music or video, social networking - or posting comments on El Reg. Our accountants have worked out that the productivity increase as a result of high staff morale more than offsets the bandwidth cost of allowing non-work related activities in the office.
It works for us. We've been in business ten years and shown profit growth every year since. Only once have we had to lay someone off and then it wasn't for poor performance, but a shift in our business model that made that person's role redundant - and it was not a decision we made lightly.
So from personal experience, I can tell you that bean-counting stinginess and whiplash management costs more in lost productivity than does giving a bit of liberty in the workplace. Respect your staff and they will respect you. Give a little, and you'll get a lot. It does work!
Thanks for setting me straight on that one, you are a shining example to us all.
Good luck and keep up the good work!