Canadian Politicians Embracing Facebook... Just As Staffers Are Banned From Facebook

from the logic,-please dept

Well, here's a nice contrast. Just as a bunch of Canadian politicians are learning to embrace Facebook as a way to interact with constituents, the powers that be in Ontario have decided that government staffers should be banned from using the site. Once again, this smacks of misunderstanding the problem at hand. There's no doubt that some staffers are using Facebook during work hours for non-work purposes. In fact, it's quite likely that some of them are abusing the privilege to some extent and spending an awful lot of time on Facebook. However, that should be clear in their work. If they're not getting work done, then it becomes an issue. If they are getting their work done, then what's the problem? Cutting off all government employees from a site (especially one that's quickly being adopted as a good way for politicians and constituents to communicate) is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's blaming a site (which does have some benefits) for the misuse of the site. It's akin to the companies many years ago that banned telephones from office desks, claiming they were a distraction to workers.


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  1.  
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    MadJo (profile), May 7th, 2007 @ 7:42am

    Phones are indeed distractions

    It's akin to the companies many years ago that banned telephones from office desks, claiming they were a distraction to workers.
    And they were right. :)
    I'd much rather IM... It's quieter that way.

     

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  2.  
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    Shohat, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:04am

    Erm why shouldn't they ban ?

    There is no such thing as "as long as they get work done". A person browsing facebook while getting paid is bad for the company. His money could be going to someone that actualy works during working hours.
    A person is GETTING PAID to be in a company . Why should I pay a person for browsing facebook ?

     

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  3.  
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    Maciej, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:32am

    Whoa now, I'm supposed to WORK for 8 hours?

    No, really, don't we all just need a break sometimes? A dull moment between projects? Waiting for someone to get back to you? Lunch time? Receptionist between phone calls and visitors? Yes, I know, we're supposed to work, but in reality, many jobs these days do not involve 8 hours of work each day. Oh shoot, I'm wasting my employer's time and money by reading this blog... Cya!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:43am

    Re: Erm why shouldn't they ban ?

    Not everyone works on an assembly line - some of us work behind desks and are trusted employees... trusted to get the job done.

     

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  5.  
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    Dalton McGuinty, May 7th, 2007 @ 10:34am

    It's a union shop

    The problem with the argument of "whats the big deal if they get their work done" is that government employees are unionized. They can't be fired just for not doing their work. If they get charged with a criminal offence, then maybe they could be fired. Otherwise the only other 2 ways to get rid of them are by retirement, or layoffs. And layoffs are by seniority, so even then, you can't necessarily get rid of the ones you want to...

    In a non-unionized environment, your argument would be much easier to uphold.

     

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  6.  
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    Alan, May 7th, 2007 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Erm why shouldn't they ban ?

    Trusted to use your paid time at work to actually do work, not surf around sites like facebook (and techdirt for that matter). I dont want to put down ALL gov employees, but if more of them spent their time doing the job at hand, we could probably fire the other two-thirds that don't.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Erm why shouldn't they ban ?

    Not everyone falls-behind in doing their work. Some people actually get caught-up and wait for the next task to be delivered. And believe it or not, there are some people who work on projects that take several hours or even several days to complete - If it were 4:55 and my next project to work on would take 30 minutes to finish, I would stall out that 5 minutes before heading out for the day and just start that next 30 minute project tomorrow. The same could be said for when I'm set working on a project that may take several hours (think way back when you were a student, "homework" and "monthly-reports" come to mind). If I worked non-stop at these tasks with only a break every 4 hours, that would be disaster. But by taking a break each time I've got "writer's block", I could be much more productive in turning out a well-written or well-produced project... than if I were to perform my tasks like a sheep and work on with an avoidable head-ache. Think of the reasons for why doctors recommend you take a break from typing every 15-20 minutes to stretch out your limbs.

     

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    Alan, May 7th, 2007 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm why shouldn't they ban ?

    So what happens when you have, say, a long project to work on, one that is longer that 7 hours...Does it ever even get started, I mean, using your analogy, since you would never have a window of opportunity larger than 7 hrs....you would never even begin this project.

    ...hmm, sounds like, "Put off for tomorrow, what I don't want to do today!"

     

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    Chuck, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Erm why shouldn't they ban ?

    No, its called don't cut a small project in half. In reality, if he takes 30 min to do it tomorrow, it might take less time than if he started, worked 5 min, and tried to catch-up tomorrow. The catch-up might even lower the quality of work, as well as taking more time to catch up.

     

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  10.  
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    Maciej, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Or just go home

    If it's 4:55, I wouldn't spend those extra 5 minutes on Facebook OR starting a new project.. I'd just go home!

     

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  11.  
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    Fred Flint, May 8th, 2007 @ 9:05am

    Missing the Point?

    Why are you all buying into the spin on this issue? It has nothing to do with wasting time and everything to do with leaking information, accidentally or not.

    Civil servants aren't always in agreement with their political 'masters' and I suspect Mr. McGuinty and his Liberal government are terrified of the sort of information that may, accidentally or not, appear on a Facebook space and engender a discussion.

    If the 'spin' on this was true, there are literally thousands of other web pages that would have to be banned.

    The Premier's statement: "I think Facebook is predominantly a social network," he said. "We understand that. It has its value, but we just don't really see how it adds value to work that you do in the workplace."

    In ten minutes I could probably find a hundred other sites to fit that criterion and none of them are banned.

    It's the public, open communications the Premier doesn't like because he can't control it.

     

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