Oh Look, Another Internet Filtering Firm Is Worried About Personal Surfing

from the haven't-we-heard-this-before? dept

It was less than a month ago that we pointed out the latest fear-mongering story about how evil personal surfing was at work. Just like every other time this kind of story shows up, the study was sponsored (oh, look at that!) by a web filtering company trying to drum up business. This time, though, the company got the added benefit of getting a lawyer who has a column at CNET to include a bunch of stuff about the legal liabilities of personal surfing. The piece, like so many before it, is written in a tone that pretty much buys the entire line of reasoning from the filtering company — never once noting that they might (just maybe) have a bit of bias coming into this. At least he does note (if only buried in the last paragraph) that there are some benefits to employee morale in letting them surf freely. He doesn’t, though, mention other reports that found employees who surf at work tend to more than make it up by doing work while away from the job. It’s not just about “morale,” but about the fact that the work-life boundaries have been increasingly blurring — and the majority of that has been work tasks invading “life.” Giving people the ability to surf the web at work certainly does have some risks and liabilities, but hiring good workers and trusting them to actually do their jobs, seems like a perfectly reasonable strategy.

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Comments on “Oh Look, Another Internet Filtering Firm Is Worried About Personal Surfing”

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Russell Cole (user link) says:

Excellent Points

There is a need for these corporations to realize that the more they demand of the employee the more latitude that must be willing to extend with respect to the employees ability to manage his or her own time. This includes time, both on the job and off of the job, which is a distinction that is becoming increasingly indeterminate. I strongly believe that individuals who are enabled to work when the mood strikes then, rather than according to some imposed schedule, are far more productive and far less discontent with their circumstances.

PrestonQ55 says:

I am the CEO of a considerably large corporation, so I very often have to deal with employees who “abuse” our company’s internet access.

The only time I ever give a @#$%! is in the case of an employee who does not perform to our standards. If it seems like someone is wasting time over and over again and/or seems to be working incredibly slow, we’ll take a look at their internet usage.

I personally like to award productive employees by staying off their back, trusting them, and gving them a little freedom. This method seems to work best because, above all, it’s my job to make sure the company is running steadily, no matter how it’s done.

Michael Field says:

Re: PrestonQ55 comments

Hey PrestonQ55 can I please go to work for YOUR company!! I wish that more executive managment would adopt your attitude.

Employees are not children needing a babysitter. If they aren’t cutting it they don’t need to be there. Who cares if they surf the web or not!

As a supervisor I have to enforce the rules whether or not I agree with them. Personally however, I don’t care if my employees surf the web or come in two minutes late as long as they are productive and we meet (or exceed, which is more often the case) our departmental quotas.

Kudos to you Preston!

Brian says:

Re: Trust

I’ve run extremely large networks for the US Navy and that was my exact policy as well. I did monitor which sites were being hit and if they were problematic from the standpoint of regulations I did have a discussion with the individual involved but aside from that it came down to productivity.

There is also the problem that you can never tell what may be useful in a future context. What do I mean by this? Well, working in the IT sector I monitored news sites, IT sites, and business news sites. Frequently something that I read on break or during lunch could be relevant immediately or in the near future and save the government or business some money. Sometimes a LOT of money (millions). If this activity can enhance productivity, so long as it is not abused nor reduces worker productivity, what rational economic actor would forbid it? In other words, filtering can be counter-productive, which is exactly what you do not need in this fast moving, increasingly flattened world.

Vinnie says:


Honestly, I think that if you treat people like adults they will act like adults. Give someone freedom over their own time and show that you trust them and I bet that the majority of the time you will be rewarded. Not only that but the person will respect you more for showing such trust. We get so caught up in retribution and punishment that we often forget a calm, respectful word in private can go even further.

Michelle says:

rediculous restrictions

I work for a rather large company that is actually very good to its employees. We are generally treated with respect and trusted by our supervisors. I spend all day at a computer, and because of the hours I work, it can get REALLY slow. I work in a call center so my workload depends completely on whether someone calls or not, and sometimes I will be waiting for nearly a half hour between calls.

Anyhow, the point that frustrates me the most is that since I started working here several months ago, they have been locking down on web surfing. They have web filtering software on the network, and, I am not exaggerating, it restricts more and more sites each day I come in.

I am working right now, and I am positive that within a week I will not be allowed to view this site. They are basically trying to squeeze everything out until they get to the point we can no longer do our jobs, and then they will stop, right at that threshold.

I am a very good worker and consistently meet or exceed the standards here. My internet surfing does not interfere with my work. In fact, it keeps me entertained, alert, and more pleasant to my callers since I am not sitting at my desk staring blankly at a screen, unable to do anything but go over and over in my head how rediculous the limitations have gotten.

Yes, I signed a policy that says I will use the computers for work purposes only. I had to, to get hired, mind you. But since they have been doing this, I enjoy my job much less and can’t wait to leave at the end of my shift. I can’t imagine this is what my employers were aiming for when they decided what a great idea this “websense” would be. And yet, I can hardly approach my bosses with this discontent because that would only red-flag me as an abuser, making me look like I care more about surfing the web than doing my job.

It’s just that, as much as I’ve tried, I cannot do anything thats not on the computer while I’m in between calls, its just too much of a hassle to stop and start when my headset alerts me to a call. I feel saddened by the fact that this is the only thing that has made me want to find a different job, when it is something so trivial and yet affects me so greatly.

Past of me wants to print this and annonymously pass it on to my supervisor so they can better understand what their restrictions actually do, regarless of their intent– because I can guarantee it wasn’t this.

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