Companies Promoting Filtering Tools To Stop People From Reading War News At Work

from the oh,-come-on dept

A reporter at eWeek is complaining (rightfully so) about a company that pitched him on their “great” idea, as we move towards war. The company – clearly trying to profit on the war hype – says that employees will be more interested in checking news websites during the day, so they’re offering a special news filter that will block news websites from the office. As the eWeek reporter points out, this is a terrible idea. Keeping your employees ignorant (and irritated) doesn’t exactly foster a productive work environment. Letting them read news at their desk keeps them at their desk. If they want to find out news, they’re going to find it out one way or another. Doesn’t it make more sense for them to be at their desk? As the reporter points out, it certainly beats them leaving the office to go to a nearby bar to catch the news. In general, this goes back to my problem with web filters at work, though. The concept of the web filter is that you don’t trust your employees. If employees aren’t getting their work done, then fire them. If they are, what do you care if they spend a few extra minutes reading news, sports or weather? In fact, studies have shown (over and over and over again) that letting people openly surf the web at work makes the more productive. First, it lets them occassionally blow off some steam, so that when they are working they’re more focused and productive. Second, people who surf at work, also tend to then work from home – and spend more time working from home than surfing from work.

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Comments on “Companies Promoting Filtering Tools To Stop People From Reading War News At Work”

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August Jackson says:

What an awful idea...

Beyond the arguments posted with the article, being able to read the news at work is also a simple matter of safety. Living in the Washington area, news sites were an extremely important source of information on 9/11. As the nation goes to war in Iraq and raises the terrorism threat level to Orange, those of us living in major cities often depend upon news web sites for our very safety– never mind our sanity. If such a tool were truly available to employers (wouldn’t outbound filters on firewalls do the job just as well?) I hope they would have the sense not to use them.

Being able to remain informed is perhaps the only thing that does keep us porductive. Certainly a capable manager can reign in someone who abuses this priviledge and take action if productivity fallls below an acceptable level.

kai says:

productivity loss

At least in my experience, every time an IT department tries to block off a site (news, competitor, etc…) many of the employees spend all day trying to figure out several things:

1) Hmm, what else have they blocked?
2) How do I get around this block? (Proxies? Anonymizers? Dial-up? Special username/passwords?)

In the end, everyone sees what they want to see, PLUS they spend many hours trying to figure out the limitations and work-arounds to the web filter.

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