Merrill Lynch Says No To Having A Personal Life At Work

from the don't-you-dare... dept

Merrill Lynch has announced that, as of tomorrow, their employees will not be able to access any outside email provider, like AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail. It’s certainly understandable why they’re doing this. There are the legal reasons, of course, where they’re being told they need to keep track of all correspondence. There are also the productivity arguments, where they say people shouldn’t be doing non-work things at work. I don’t think either of these arguments hold too much water. On the legal front, it’s simply impossible to track all communications. People will find a way around this, whether it’s just talking in person or using some other means to communicate. As for the productivity arguments, I don’t buy it either. If someone is abusing their internet access and not getting work done, then go ahead and discipline them. However, simply cutting them off blames everyone for the few bad workers, and tells employees that management just doesn’t trust them to do their jobs. If you cultivate an environment where you don’t trust your employees not to goof off, your employees will pay you back the favor by goofing off in other ways. Studies have shown that letting employees take care of some personal stuff at work actually pays off greatly, because they spend more time at work and they’re more likely to get additional work done at home.

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Comments on “Merrill Lynch Says No To Having A Personal Life At Work”

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Any Financial Services Institution says:

We've been doing this forever

As a Financial Services company, the SEC requires one to monitor ALL communications (e-mail, IM, etc.) with customers, and it is specifically against our AUP to try to circumvent this. It’s not like it’s fun blocking e-mail sites as they pop up, but they save us from getting sued because they claim that their broker sent them an e-mail about a hot stock tip from their broker’s personal e-mail account. See Frank Gruttadarria’s case for what happens when you don’t monitor/block your employees’ external e-mail/Internet access at work.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

You’re missing the point on this one Mike. They are required to monitor (or make the very best damn attempt they can) all traffic. By creating this policy they are saving themselves several potential legal problems. Yes, there are always ways to circumvent these kind of things however, with this policy in place, they may terminate the employee on the spot without to much fear of a wrongful termination suit.

Milnesy says:

My site does the same thing.

We lock down any of the outside email (Yahoo, hotmail) and kill any pop3 email (since we use Lotus Notes, I know … feel sorry) and run scans to see if we are using any of those apps. Add on top of that, we just were told that we have to scour the users desks, lock em down, and remove any instant msg programs… and block those ports.

I can see where they are coming from (Merrill) but in the end it makes the empolyees less productive. A break every now and then is good for the employee.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: My site does the same thing.

There is also another consideration to look into, virus propigation in the workplace. My company uses antivirus products at three different points in the network. one of which it the users desktop. By allowing employees access to their net based email accounts two out of three layers of protection are side-stepped. During the last 2 years three major virus infections have been traced back to hotmail type accounts.

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