The Personal Surfing Menace

from the beware-of-filtering-companies-bearing-studies dept

What is it with filtering companies and their need to put out fear-filled studies about just how many people are (gasp!) surfing non-work sites at work? Plenty of studies have shown that a little personal personal surfing at work may be a good thing for productivity and employee health and morale. It lets them recharge their batteries, as well as take care of personal business that might drag them fully away from work otherwise. However, companies that sell filters always feel the need to bring it up as if it’s some sort of horrible office problem. That’s true in the latest study by some random web filtering company that points out that people see other employees at work surfing shopping and news sites all the time. What’s amusing is that, rather than asking people if they do these things, the survey asks them only if they’ve “seen others” do it — and then follows it up by noting that 35% were “bothered” by seeing others shopping online while 29% were bothered by others’ sports surfing. First off, just because so many people see others doing it, it doesn’t mean that they all are. In an office of 100 people, there could be one person doing personal surfing (1%), but everyone could see them, giving a response of 99% – so the numbers are misleading. Second, there’s no indication of other issues related to what bothers people. If you see someone who isn’t getting their work done at all, then perhaps it makes sense to be bothered to find out they’re checking up on the latest scores. However, if they’re productive, who cares? Why should it matter if one employee is bothered that another is surfing a sports site? Perhaps that employee is bothered that the other one keeps peaking over the cubicle wall to see what they’re surfing. Maybe the company should start making taller cubicles to protect against that “bothersome” issue. The study also plays the “oh no! porn!” card to scare people as well — warning that office workers are often “accidentally” exposed to porn. What’s really amusing here is that, unlike with the personal surfing questions (which ask about co-workers’ activities), the questions on porn surfing were asked of the worker themselves, making it much more likely that they’ll say it was an “accident.” When you do so something, it’s an accident. When someone else does it, it’s problematic. But, don’t worry, this filtering company will solve all those problems…

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