How Dare Companies Trust Their Employees!

from the what-gall! dept

A new study in the UK has come out saying that, while more companies are providing internet access to employees, a smaller percentage are using filtering technology to block out “inappropriate” sites. The article makes this out to be a terrible thing – suggesting companies don’t understand the risk. While perhaps that’s true in some cases, there are other sides to this story – and one of them could be that some employers actually trust their employees to do the right thing and not to surf “inappropriate sites.” The article even gets a quote from someone at Websense, who is clearly biased as the company is trying to sell more web filters saying that companies that provide “unrestricted access” are creating “distractions” for employees and that: “Every company with internet access has a responsibility to ensure it is managed in order to protect both their shareholder value and their employees.” Well, first off, plenty of studies have shown that actually trusting your employees to do the right thing tends to make them more productive, and if you can’t hire employees who know how to avoid “distractions” then you have an HR problem, not an internet access problem. There are also studies that show that occasional personal surfing at work tends to make people more productive as well. Besides, they might have a stronger argument if their filters worked better – but considering that plenty of perfectly legitimate sites get blocked, there are cases where filters can make workers decidedly less productive when they can’t reach sites they need to access.

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Comments on “How Dare Companies Trust Their Employees!”

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Chomper says:

No Subject Given

This reminds me of all those dumb ads in PC Magazine for “legit” spyware to monitor employees. Last time I checked, the US was not a Communist/Stalanist/insert crappy social system here.

I don’t know anyone who works 8 hours straight through. That’s why there are breaks and so people can stop and relax for a little bit. Stepping back and getting some perspective is important.

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: An Open Thank you to my company

If my employer took away my unmonitored internet access, I’d quit.

If you don’t trust me enough to use the web responsibly, then why do I have access to the building, server rooms & petty cash ?

If your employer trusts you enough to use the web responsibly, take the time to tell them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: An Open Thank you to my company

I’m reading this site and posting this via monitored access by Websense. I have had this for a few months and some interesting observations:

1. Blocked Sites Change – When I first started working here, all personal email (Yahoo, e.g.) was blocked, which really angered me since I DO get business related email to my personal email. It has sense been changed, but I don’t know who complained (it wasn’t me).

2. When a Porn Site Isn’t – I was trying to find a Taiwanese manufacturing company and finally found their site. It was blocked as “sexually explicit”, which I am sure would surprise my potential customer.

3. No Shopping – Ebay and Amazon are blocked, although they thoughtfully provide a button to “continue to business purposes”. I could have cliked through but decided against it.

4. Yes and no to blogs – There are some blogs that are blocked, others aren’t. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it – Instapundit isn’t, Business Pundit is. Sort of all over the map.

This is more a corporate issue than a managerial issue since my direct boss really doesn’t care what I read during work hours as long as I get my work done. Add to the fact that I do overseas conf. calls at all hours of the night at home, so I am a little upset that corporate policy won’t could give me 30-60 minutes during the day to read various sites or shop.

thecaptain says:

Re: Re: Re: An Open Thank you to my company

4. Yes and no to blogs – There are some blogs that are blocked, others aren’t. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it – Instapundit isn’t, Business Pundit is. Sort of all over the map.

For us we have this too…only its not a mystery as to why. It goes something like this: Either an executive gets “offended” by a site (which subsequently gets blocked) or the network guys in charge of the filter regularily browse that site (in which case it never gets blocked at all…no matter what)

Lucky for me, I browse mostly the same sites the network guys do… 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Your missing the point. The employer is pretty much forced to monitor and filter content or be subject to a ‘hostile work place’ law suit from whoever damn well feels like it. It really has very little to do with ‘trusting’ the employees. They are simply trying to avoid lawsuits brought by employees. Besides, if you’re not doing anything wrong, what’s to worry about ?

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: Trust


I am not missing the point.
My employer has enough trust in me to know that I will not surf website @ work that as you put it: ” create a hostile work environment “.

Since I’m not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to worry about. But with your thinking, you would probably allow yourself to be searched without a warrent, or pee in a cup.

It has everything to do with trusting the people you hire.

Please explain how surfing financial websites & news & technology information websites creates a hostile work environment.

On a side note: Those in my office that have proven that they can not be trusted to surf judiciously do not have full access to the web.

By inherently NOT trusting your employees you create low morale & a much more hostile work environment.

thecaptain says:

Re: Re: Trust

I never understood why some people surf for porn at work. (I’m not against porn…in the right place at the right time..which work, or while driving a car ISN’T either of those)
Its clear that you feel you can be trusted (with good reason, I feel the same way as you, surfing tech news and technical websites do not hinder my job, they make me a better employee) but its also clear (at least from my experience) that there’s far too many people who can’t BE trusted.
Our network dept did an audit last year of our networked storage space (public archive drives accessible by anyone in the company). And the reported percentage was 25% of the used space was porn. That’s a LOT of porn when you consider we have hundreds of gigabytes available over several servers!!! I mean this goes beyond “I’ll just take a peek…” right to the “I’ve got a problem and I’m downloading everything in sight!”

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: Re: Re: Trust


I too am in agreement with you … I surf, porn & sites that would NOT be suitable for an office on MY OWN time on my OWN computer. I have nothing against people looking @ whatever they want on their OWN time …

Just as you wouldn’t leave a Playboy on your desk, neither should you check out those sites @ the office.

Thats really sad that 35% of space was being wasted on porn … those people in your office are the ones that should be cracked down on and canned.

My brother used to work for AG Edwards and he found a high ranking broker that was REGULARLY downloading child porn. When he took it to management they swept it under the rug because the broker was making the company millions. In disgust, my brother turned the guy over to the FBI and left the company within a month.

Why don’t MORE employers NAIL the buttwads that abuse the web so that ALL of the employees are not unfairly penalized ?

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