Once Again, Company With Obvious Bias Warns Of The Horrors Of Personal Surfing

from the get-over-it dept

It's like clockwork. Every few months we see headlines proclaiming how personal surfing at work is bad. In every single case that we've seen, the "study" has been done by an internet filtering/security firm. The latest is no different. It makes a big deal out of the fact that employers are "damaging their business" by letting employees surf the web. How do they come to such conclusions? By finding out that (gasp!) over a third of employees spend more than 30 minutes a day personal surfing. And that's obviously bad. Why? Because it is. It's so bad, in fact, that they recommend "locking down corporate networks to all but essential business applications and strictly controlling access to non-work-related web sites." I wonder who might provide tools to do that? Oh look... the company that sponsored the study and gave that quote! But, did they bother to look at whether or not that personal surfing was actually damaging? Nah. Did they look at whether or not that personal surfing helped give employees a much needed break that helped them be more productive while working? Nah. Did they look at how people who were blocked from personal surfing found other ways to waste time? Nah. Did they look at how those who are allowed to personal surf at work often use it to take care of tasks that would otherwise take them away from work? Nah. Did they look at how so many companies today expect employees to be on call so that work invades their home as well? Nah. Did they look at how allowing personal surfing at work tends to make happier, more loyal employees? Nah. Or did they look at any of the other research that has shown that employees who do personal surfing at work tend to more than make it up by doing work at home? Nah, of course not. Did the "staff writer" who wrote the article (it looks more like rearranged a press release) think to ask any of those questions? Nah. Yes, of course there are people who abuse their privileges and surf too much. However, that can be judged by whether or not they're actually getting their work done. Have we seen the last of these types of stories? Nah...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Matt Sherwood, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 3:49am

    BRIILANT..

    Nike, this is by far your standout post I've read since I have been reading TechDirt.

    Keep up the good work!!

     

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  2.  
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    Daniel (profile), Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 4:36am

    Re: BRIILANT..

    I wonder if i should be reading this from work? What the hell I only have 5 more days of my notice to work!

     

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  3.  
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    Raoul, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 4:44am

    Right on!

    There's a perverse sort of pleasure that one gets when locking down the network like that... it's like joining the dark side... Ugh! There's a large number of directors of IS and CIOs out there who actually believe these "studies". It's really pathetic, but they think they're doing good!

     

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  4.  
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    Justin, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 5:06am

    Re: Right on!

    To be fair, there are advantages to locking down certain pornographic sites. You don't want to walk around the office hearing moaning or heavy breathing.
    Personal banking, email, and other "clean" sites are fine though.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 5:29am

    Re: Right on!

    ...I don't think you'd hear any of that...

    at least I hope not at work

     

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  6.  
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    Terry Holderbaum, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 5:38am

    Re: Right on!

    Actually, there are leagal issues to look out for. Unrestricted web surfing could expose a company to legal liability. For example, employees surfing porn could, and has, led to sexual harrassment suits.

    Bottom Line, folks, when you work at a job, you are selling your time to the employer. You are at work. the employer has every right to secure his systems as he sees fit.

    Let's assume that an average employee spends 1 hour a day on non work use of the Internet. that works out to 32 1/2 DAYS of lost productivity on a yearly basis.

    So to a business man, if I can put a system in that simultanously innoculates him against some legal liability and adds a 12% gain in productivity over the year per employee, how is that not a win?

    We have to get over the idea that we have numerous rights that somehow automatically trump the rights of others. The idea that rights are somehow absolute is fine for 9th grade civics class, but it doesn't work for a civil society.

    Your employer pays you to spend a certian amount of time focusing on his intrests, not yours. You don't have to like his rules, but you'll lump it if you like cashing the check.

     

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  7.  
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    s.m.shockley, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 5:51am

    Re: Right on!

    The primary focus of the article appears to have been that smart research means getting multiple perspectives and that smart management means thinking psychologically.

    The best business leaders, whether it be blue collar plant managers, or presumeably chiefs of staff (no personal experience there) seem to think about psychology a lot: there are many trade-offs you need to make when giving and taking work place priveleges, and it is not one sided. The perfect blend should usher the ultimate productivity.

     

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  8.  
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    MickyD, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:12am

    Re: Legal issues

    Don't forget - "unrestricted" web access can also lead to the disclosure of company/private data. Can you imagine someone working for AMEX who's posting card numbers, exp dates, and cust names on sites, emails, or IMs??

    "Limited" use of the 'Net should be okay - provided that it does not interfere with work or job-related duties.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul Buckner, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:16am

    reply to post

    To be sure, most employees who have access to the internet abuse it a little, chacking an ebay auction, or similar. I have seen situations, however, where employees have spent much more than thirty minutes a day in unworkrelated websurfing. This is damaging, and unethical, since the employer has to pay for this, it is no different than when someone embezzles, or steals computer components or other merchandise from the company they work for, it is, and remains, theft.
    Have I checked my email from work? Yes, but was I on the phone, or something that allowed me to work with my hands and take care of a problem? Yes.

     

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  10.  
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    A. Lloyd Flanagan, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Re: Right on!

    Sure, an employer has a right to prevent my check my bank account at work. Or reading techdirt, for that matter. And I have a right to leave exactly 8 hours after I step in the door, and go home and surf. Or I can stay an extra thirty minutes and solve a problem.
    The question is not one of rights -- it's of enlightened management v. the impulse to lock down every second of employee's time.

     

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    Strofcon, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Re: Right on!

    "Let's assume that an average employee spends 1 hour a day on non work use of the Internet. that works out to 32 1/2 DAYS of lost productivity on a yearly basis.

    So to a business man, if I can put a system in that simultanously innoculates him against some legal liability and adds a 12% gain in productivity over the year per employee, how is that not a win?"

    Uh... best I can figure it, it only adds up to about 10+ hours of lost productivity in a year, working 5 days a week for the FULL 52 weeks in a year, which maybe 3 people on the planet actually do.

    Now, I understand your argument that the employer can absolutely shut down non-work related network traffic if they please. The article doesn't say that they can't. The article says it's stupid, which I agree with.

    While porn and other inappropriate sites should be filtered, ALL non-work related content has no need to be blocked, unless, as the article states, the employer notices that an employee is not doing their work.
    Oh, wait, that would require the employer to actually check on their employees from time to time... Hm... The employer actually has to put a little time and effort into their business? Nah...

     

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  12.  
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    Andrew Strasser, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:41am

    Re: reply to post

    Reinstalling the IE service pack works on many comps. to free them of malware or adaware type of things. It must be directly changing your registry back to the basics.

     

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  13.  
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    Brian, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:42am

    Ups and Downs

    I work for a company that allows us unrestricteed internet access. And sure there are people who abuse it when they have the time to, but if people are busy with work, they do not abuse that right(at least at my company). I am a programmer and I often do alot of web browsing at work, looking to see if there is anything out there that can help me with my current task. Restricting the internet in this case I think would hinder my effectiveness at work.
    My wife works for an Event Planning company that deals with planning events for drug companies. Her company has restricted internet, which often interferes with her doing her job. Since "pornographic" web sites are locked down when she goes to get information on STD's alot of times there is material on the site that is deemed pornographic even though it is just showing the symptoms of the disease.
    While I am for unrestricted internet I believe people have to use their common sense. I would like to believe that everyone knows browsing for porn while at work is probably not acceptable by their bosses.

     

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  14.  
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    John Lambert, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:47am

    Re: Right on!

    >Bottom Line, folks, when you work at a job, you are selling your time to the employer. You are at work. the employer has every right to secure his systems as he sees fit.
    And I have every right to quit and go work for a company that doesn't have tunnel-vision management.

    >Let's assume that an average employee spends 1 hour a day on non work use of the Internet. that works out to 32 1/2 DAYS of lost productivity on a yearly basis.
    Let's assume that an average employee spends 1 hour a day talking and thinking about work issues while "off the clock". That works out to 32 1/2 DAYS of UNPAID productivity on a yearly basis.

    >So to a business man, if I can put a system in that simultanously innoculates him against some legal liability and adds a 12% gain in productivity over the year per employee, how is that not a win?
    It's not a win if he drives away what would otherwise be his best employees.

    >We have to get over the idea that we have numerous rights that somehow automatically trump the rights of others. The idea that rights are somehow absolute is fine for 9th grade civics class, but it doesn't work for a civil society.
    You need to get over the 19th century idea that employers own their employees' time, rather than hiring a person with talent to accomplish particular goals for total compensation that makes the work profitable for the employer. And get rid of the foolish, short-sighted idea that a person's time is bought by the minute or by the hour. You can reasonably expect that from a machine, but employees are human. Focus on whether or not a person gets a job done, gets it done well, and gets it done fast enough to be worth what you're paying for it. If they accomplish a work goal in an "8 hour work day" that includes several or many mental breaks of short or long duration is irrelevant from the economic valuation of the end result.

    >Your employer pays you to spend a certian amount of time focusing on his intrests, not yours. You don't have to like his rules, but you'll lump it if you like cashing the check.
    Humans have limits. For example, we cannot concentrate undivided attention on anything for 8 hours at a time. Overall performance should be how work is evaluated, not by counting moments and comparing "useful" vs. "wasted". And I have news for you. If I don't like your rules, you're the one who will lump it, because I'll be finding a smarter employer.

     

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  15.  
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    what, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:51am

    Re: Right on! math!

    32.5 days? for one hour lost per work day, you'd have to work 780 days a year.

     

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  16.  
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    cube monkey, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:52am

    agreed

    There are different type of people who do thigns differently and I have seen people sit at their cube 8 hours a day typing away codes while others like myself have to take breaks every hour to either use the restroom or walk around or just get up and stretch. It's difficult to do actual work 8 hours a day straight. It has its physical impact (if the company gives you a tiny monitor to stare at and sit on an uncomfortable chair for 8 hours a day). Like the others say, its about being productive and if you are doing things to take your mind off of work to relax and come back and try to solve or finish up whatever you are doing then it's more likely that the task will get done on time if not sooner and with less errors.

     

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  17.  
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    hexjones, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:55am

    Re: Right on!

    "So to a business man, if I can put a system in that simultanously innoculates him against some legal liability and adds a 12% gain in productivity over the year per employee, how is that not a win?"

    Did you even read what Mike wrote?

    Now people will be on the phone to get things done. They have lower morale. They won't want to be on call or work from home. We will spend time doing other things - you need a break sometimes in order to continue functioning.

    I think that it's more important to effectively manage your people so that they have tasks and projects to accomplish and not worry about them giving themselves a diversion now and then.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:03am

    Re: Right on!

    "Let's assume that an average employee spends 1 hour a day on non work use of the Internet. that works out to 32 1/2 DAYS of lost productivity on a yearly basis. So to a business man, if I can put a system in that simultanously innoculates him against some legal liability and adds a 12% gain in productivity over the year per employee, how is that not a win?" Uh... best I can figure it, it only adds up to about 10+ hours of lost productivity in a year, working 5 days a week for the FULL 52 weeks in a year, which maybe 3 people on the planet actually do." Your math is off. 1 hour a day = 12.5% of a workday. (8 Hours) The average work year is 2080 hours. (40 hours*52 weeks) 12.5% of 2080 hours is 260 hours which = 32.5 days (260/8). I will grant you that an average person takes 2 weeks (80 Hours) off per year. That still means that 31.25 workdays would be wasted. (2080-80*.125/8=31.25 days) Note that my figures are per employee. Consider a frim with 100 employees. That firm would be loosing 1.56 MAN YEARS of productivity each year across his staff. Economies of scale really hurt here. All that said, the real issue is the fact that using the internet for personal purposes is stealing time from your employer. It is the same as showing up an hour late everyday. I am not advocating for being someone's mom, or that all of us are sticking to the man, but an employer needs a documented pattern of abuse in order to deal with those who would steal from the company by abusing the Internet in this way. Thus, Filtering software. And beleive me, those of us who are don't do it resent those of you who do. Your employer should be ringing you up for violating the acceptable use policy and if you will not grow up and cut it out, they should fire you. By the way, I set up my filters to allow no pron, or offensive material, but I limit my users to 10 min. of personal internet use each day by my filter.

     

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  19.  
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    Steve, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:04am

    Re: Right on!

    I think the focus of this article was that shifty security companies were making "newsvertisements" i.e. "This is what studies have shown, oh and by the way here's the product solution for it!" Just a new twist on progaganda imo.

     

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  20.  
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    Terry Holderbaum, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:10am

    umm no.

    it's of enlightened management v. the impulse to lock down every second of employee's time.

    Would you accept your lawyer billing you for 100 hours when he only worked 87.5?

    No?

    Then why should your employer? Honest days work for an honest days pay.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:13am

    Re: Right on!

    No, the blogger has an ax to grind against the idea of filtering. That is the point.

     

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  22.  
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    bmac (profile), Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:13am

    Great post!

    Mike, you're right on; I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    It's all about striking the right balance. At my company, we filter the real nasties, while allowing casual surfing. Those who abuse this privilege get caught when their performance suffers, but the emphasis is on helping the employee keep their job. We don't use filtering to find the baddies and get them fired; it's enough to know that we're blocking 99.9% of the bad stuff.

    Managers should be aware of their employees' activities. Too often filtering is used as a crutch and IT/IS becomes the Internet police because managers are too lazy to keep track of their employees.

    So keeping the employees happy AND blocking the stuff that can get you sued is actually pretty easy if management has the right attitude and is willing to be flexible.

    Keep up the great work.

     

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  23.  
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    Dog, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:17am

    No Subject Given

    Tell that to the chick that sits next to me at work and surfs the russian sights all day, eats 4 lunches and various other types of snacks.. it's disgusting, especially since I'm busting my ass.

     

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  24.  
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    Phil, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:31am

    Personal surfing

    Employers should be looking at overall productivity of each employee. There is work to be done, is it getting done? Is it getting done well? What the employee does during the time he/she is not working is part of that productivity. Where knowledge work is concerned this is even more true. Stifle any personal control over any time and find your turn over increase with the decrease in productivity that comes with that.

    Police the non-productive. Leave the productive employees to produce.

     

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  25.  
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    A-Man, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:38am

    Re: Right on!

    Anonymous Coward Writes: Your math is off. 1 hour a day = 12.5% of a workday. (8 Hours) The average work year is 2080 hours. (40 hours*52 weeks) 12.5% of 2080 hours is 260 hours which = 32.5 days (260/8). I will grant you that an average person takes 2 weeks (80 Hours) off per year. That still means that 31.25 workdays would be wasted.

    Your math is off...there is no need to overcomplicate it like you did that just screws it up. Do it like this. 1 hour a day times 5 days a week is 5 hours. 5 hours a week times 52 weeks in a year is 260 hours a year. Divide 260 hours a year by 24 hours in a day and you get 10.83333 days a year spent browsing the internet. Its no where close to your rediculous 32.5. Didn't your math teach show you how to do word problems?

     

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  26.  
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    Lion XL, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:40am

    Re: Right on!

    I don't think anyone is disputing that if an employer defines rules against surfing that you should willingly defy it. What we are saying is that employers can lighten up and allow these activities within reason.

    Take the argument of coffee and/or cigarette breaks, look past the legal issue of where they are surfing, and its the same argument from 20 years ago. Most, not all, corporations have realized that to totally ban coffee and Cigarette breaks would bring down productivity.

    I know that since I ahve begun doing my banking and billing online, I have saved tons of time for my employer. I used to have to extra time at lunch to got to the bank, or to go pay a bill or a whole day to register my car. Now it may take 5 or 15 minutes of my time, while I am still at my desk monitoring jobs, and still being accesible if something comes. The other way I am gone for those 15 minutes plus the remainder of my lunch hour. Oh, and did I mention that nowadays I rarely leave my desk for lunch. I may be at lunch, I may be surfing, but I am still accessible if a problem comes up.

     

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  27.  
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    Gomorrah, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:45am

    Re: Right on!

    You give your employees 10 minutes of personal internet use each day. But do you ask your employees to do anything past the 8 hour day? I know that my employer allows me unlimited internet access. Yes, such things as pornographic material and things such as that are filtered, but overall, I have unlimited access. Now, I do not spend even an hour a day on personal internet use while at work, but lets just use that nice round figure.

    I may spend 1 hour for personal internet use, but my boss knows also that I am an employee he can count on. My work gets done. It gets done on time, and it gets done correctly (for the most part, everybody makes a few mistakes) everytime. Innumerable times, because my boss knows I can be counted on, I will be asked to not leave for the day until a project is done. Now, this may mean I am at work till 7, 8, sometimes even 9 pm. Yes, I am on the clock during this time, but at the same time, technically, since I am scheduled for an 8-5 shift, I do not have to stay. Overall, the company I work for does very well, and the employees are happy. My boss is happy because the work gets done on time. The employees are happy because we know that if we just need to check an e-bay auction really quick, or check our personal e-mail, that our boss will not be over there talking about our productivity. Every good employee (although yes there are some exceptions, but they get weeded out fairly quickly) is happier knowing that if we wanted to spend all day on the internet, we could. No filter would stop us, and our boss would not mind. He does not look at how much time we spend on the internet, he looks at how the tasks we are given are carried out in a brisk, efficient manner. The amount of trust you have in your employees is deplorable, and I hope I never have to work for somebody like you in my life.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:45am

    Re: Right on!

    Part of the problem is in the definition of day here. The employer is not losing 32.5 or 31.5 DAYS of lost productivity. Please consider that a day is 24 hours.

    I also assume that we are talking white collar/salaried positions, 9 - 5 type of stuff, so are we adjusting for lunch hours? 9 - 5 is seven hours. Are we adjusting for the hours put in at home on our own time thinking about work related tasks?

    I personally have used the internet at work FOR work. Being able to have that much information at any time is a good thing for employers. I do agree that pornography and the like has no business in the workplace, so they should be filtered.

    Exactly how is this stealing? Again the definition is wrong. You must have taken that from the RIAA/MPAA book of definitions. (in their case copyright infringement = theft, which, it is NOT)

     

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  29.  
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    bmac (profile), Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:47am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Dog,

    Obviously she's getting away with it. If you're that upset about it, you should report it, and if necessary, skip your direct manager and go to his/her boss.

     

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  30.  
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    Lion XL, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:52am

    Re: Legal issues

    That is really not valid argument, becuase any one working for a credit card company giving out cc#'s is not abusing a company perk, it's straight up theft and could find simpler methods of getting that done (ie. write em down and post em from home.)

     

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  31.  
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    Steve G, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:13am

    Re: reply to post

    You have a bright future with the RIAA.

     

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  32.  
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    Moogle, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:16am

    Re: Right on!

    Gah, I hate it when pedantism misses the point entirely.

    If an employee gets really sick and has to take 10 sick days, how many hours of work is missing? 80.

    If he's in an accident and needs some physical therepy and is gone for 32.5 week days (not counting weekends), how many hours of work is he missing? 260.

    By your calculations, 52 weeks * 5 days * 8 hours a day / 24 hours a day, a year of work involves 86 days. This is not meaningful to the conversation, stop harping on math that utterly misses the context.

    Geez.

     

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  33.  
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    Mister Wizard, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:18am

    Re: Right on!

    Hey math geniuses...

    31.25 WORK DAYS (8hr days)
    10.83 DAYS (24hr days)

    You are both saying the same thing. But I think you need to use consistent variables. Clarify terms.

    WORK DAYS...

     

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  34.  
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    Tashi, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:23am

    No Subject Given

    I'm one of those on call... 24-7. The blanket statement that surfing at work is bad is based on a faultly premise. Mike tripped on the steps at work. Steps are bad. Let's eliminate steps and install elevators. This study was done by the Acme Elevator Co.

    I think the important thing is to realize that the organization doing the study is also trying to sell you something. The first two things I always ask myself when I hear about a "study" relative to anything is, who did the study, and who funded it.

     

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  35.  
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    Natholin, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:26am

    Re: umm no.

    What about people like me.
    I am paid to come and sit in an office and wait for something to break.
    When it breaks I fix it right away, if nothing breaks what do I do.
    I normally study, or browse the net, or work on other projects.
    Should I not get paid but for the time I spend fixing stuff.

    You can say what you want, but a smart manager knows that if you demand a lot from your people you should also give in return.
    Or you will not have anyone working for you and then your production is still low.

     

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  36.  
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    Tashi, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:31am

    Re: umm no.

    That's a good point. There is a psychological component that is being left out. You can beat your employees with a whip and tell them they live to row the ship, row well and live, or you can do a little bit to help give them a relaxed atmosphere to work in.

     

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  37.  
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    Jason Wilson, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:37am

    You're kidding.

    You folks realise there are jobs which should not even be classed by hours. I am a programmer, lets say I, programmer A, am given a job to do and one third the normal amount of time to do it. Programmer B is working on a project with no rush deadline. So, I bust my ass working three times harder than Programmer B, I take my breaks to avoid mental breakdown and still finish in time for the deadline. At the end of the pay period my straight-laced, tunnel visioned manager will pay me and programmer B for our time meaning I just made the same amount of money for three tiems the amount of work. MY point should be clear you cannot base performance on time. While you may lose 1 hour per day of my time to web surfing what are you gaining. Lets look. Lets say I do 80 hours of work in 40 hours I "lose" 1 hour per day for personal surfing. My work Equivalent: 50weeks * 80hours 4000 hours I lose: 50weeks * 1hours 50 hours Net work done: 3950 hours You pay me: 50weeks * 40hours 2000 hours Underpayment: 1950 hours considering I get payed $25/hour, that is $48,750 in sweat equity that I just lost take away my one hour of "wasted time" and you just ripped me out of another $1250... care to tell me why I shouldn't go somewhere else?

     

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  38.  
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    Kolya, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:38am

    Re: Right on!

    What a paternalistic, myopic bunch of drivel. Your analyis and number crunching are as self serving as the supposed "study". As Mike states, what if the employee had to do their errands outside of work . .there owuld lost productivity there too.

    Of course,the employer has a right to lock down their systems (no revelation there dude) it's a matter of whether that's good for their business or not . . ) what abour productivity loss when I can't do the research I want? Should we prohibit person cell phones too?

     

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  39.  
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    Kolya, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:39am

    Re: Right on!

    What a paternalistic, myopic bunch of drivel. Your analysis and number crunching are as self serving as the supposed "study". As Mike states, what if the employee had to do their errands outside of work . .there would be lost productivity there too.

    Of course,the employer has a right to lock down their systems (no revelation there dude) it's a matter of whether that's good for their business or not . . ) what about productivity loss when I can't do the research I want? Should we prohibit person cell phones too?

     

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  40.  
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    durtgurl, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:43am

    Re: Right on! math!

    Actually, that is if you are thinking of the work day as being 24 hours long. As it is only 8 hours ling, the previous math is correct. The ideas behind it, however, lack much understanding.

     

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  41.  
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    locoHost, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:00am

    Amen!

    John my man you are spot on! I'm a programmer. Do I meet my deadlines? Do I make my boss and more importantly my customers happy? If "yes" and "yes", then I'm doing my job and I've earned my salary regardless of punch cards and/or 'net surfing. Or conversations in the hall for that matter. You get paid for accomplishments not minutes.

     

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  42.  
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    T, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:01am

    Re: Right on!

    You must be the boss or IT guy.

     

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  43.  
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    Stoolio, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:04am

    Re: Right on!

    Terry, your need to throw your weight around to prove you are a 'business man' makes Mike's point.
    Why are you talking about 'rights'? No one said a thing about rights.
    Why do you think you need to scold everyone as if they are children?
    If you would hire some folks with actual work ethic and commmon sense and treat them like adults they will move heaven and earth to make you money.
    Any boss ever talked to me the way you seem like you do to your employees, would be put on ignore anytime he/she called me for something after work and I would be looking for a new job that would treat me as a professional, not a teenager at a fast food joint.
    Your post proves two dimensional thinkers and bean counters make horrible leaders.

     

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  44.  
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    Blisshead, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:08am

    Re: Right on!

    IT is a means to an end, not the end itself (in most cases). A lot of folks forget that.

     

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  45.  
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    wolff000, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:15am

    parents Just don't understand!

    OK at first the title was people don't undrstand but I wanted to give homage to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I still love that show. Anyways people need some personal time and in this century that is getting less and less. With more employers wanting 24 hour employees and the stresses that computers themselves add you have to have some down time or you break. Breaking of course is no good for anyone including your employer. On the other hand letting employees surf on restrained can be dangerous. As stated above with porn site and "hacking" sites that possibly contain viruses, an open connection is not good. There is a fine line that has to be tread to keep employees happy and the company safe. Where that line is I don't know. i wish I did since I am the admin for my company and I decide what's open and what's not. Too bad you can't just trust people to do the right thing.

     

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  46.  
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    eastside, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:30am

    time wasting

    I wonder why none of these internet Nazi's mention the fact that smokers typically waste 10 minute per hour putting on their coat, walking outside, getting their nicotine fix, walking back to their desks, taking their coat off and then getting back to work? Since I choose to not parttake in that disgusting and dangerous habit, I typically end up giving my company 80 more minutes of productive time per day than my co workers. I think they owe me 80 minutes of internet time wasting every day. I don't browse porn sites at home. Why do they want to assume that I would suddenly start here? And even if I did, I am 55 years old. I think I can make responsible decisions for myself by now.

     

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  47.  
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    Wolfger, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:31am

    worker happiness

    The day they take away my ability to surf on company time (providing I get my work done on time) is the day I look for a job where I'm paid what I'm worth. Being able to surf is quite valuable to me. I could easily walk and get a 25% pay raise elsewhere, but my working environment would not be so cushy.

     

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  48.  
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    Terry Holderbaum, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:53am

    It is all in the Numbers...

    "Your post proves two dimensional thinkers and bean counters make horrible leaders.

    No. It just means that there is a cost to every business decision and that cost can be calculated. A basic business truth is that which is not measured cannot be managed. What I mean is that just because you want to ignore the math, doesn't mean it goes away or that there is not a cost.

    Once you understand the costs, then you can make a business decision as to the benefits versus the cost.

    In truth, I would like to be more flexible, but am limited by my board to 10 mins of personal time on the Internet.

    As you guessed, I am an IT director. I understand that my job is to support the profit centers, however, part of that job in my case is policy enforcement.

    As far as having a 24 hour workday, I can see where that can be irritating. Some businesses are sticking it to their employees. The truth is, though, that you have a choice about if you want to work there. They are not chaining you to your desk after all.

    On the whole though, this basic point is unavoidable. Stealing time is the same as stealing money. That is true if your on personal calls at work, fooling around on the Internet, sleeping, or shagging the chick in accounting.

    Oh and Stoolio:
    "If you would hire some folks with actual work ethic and commmon sense and treat them like adults they will move heaven and earth to make you money."

    All things being equal, i agree with you. However, that ideal does not scale to larger organizations. My experience has been that it begins to break down around 50 employees or so.

    I could prove that too you with some math if you like...


     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:56am

    No Subject Given

    If my company wants to play that game, I can leave every day at 5:05pm and let that Saturday work call go to voicemail.

    I understand the business need for specific departments within specific companies (finance in particular), but locking down Internet access just to lock it down is Draconian and very counterproductive.

     

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  50.  
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    Terry Holderbaum, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:59am

    Re: time wasting

    Eastside:

    No. you agreed to a certian number of hours. It is the smokers who should get it. Many companies are implementing a complete and total ban on on site smoking during work hours because of productivity and health concerns.

    BTW, a quick calculation: each smoker in your example would loose over 41 WORKDAYS (8 hours each people, gotta sleep sometimes) each year. Good Lord!

    No one wants to tell you what you can and cannot do... but not everyone is as responsible as you are. It is rather unfortunate, if you think about it.

     

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  51.  
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    Terry Holderbaum, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 10:05am

    End of day Whistle

    "If my company wants to play that game, I can leave every day at 5:05pm and let that Saturday work call go to voicemail.

    I understand the business need for specific departments within specific companies (finance in particular), but locking down Internet access just to lock it down is Draconian and very counterproductive."

    You know what, back in the day every knew when quitting time was because we had a factory whistle which blew at 5. Think our parents and grandparents knew something we didn't?

     

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  52.  
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    anonymous, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 10:12am

    Re: It is all in the Numbers...

    "On the whole though, this basic point is unavoidable. Stealing time is the same as stealing money. That is true if your on personal calls at work, fooling around on the Internet, sleeping, or shagging the chick in accounting."

    I think people are comparing different kinds of jobs implicitly here.

    I'm a salaried employee - I'm not paid to work 40 hours a week, I'm paid to get my job done, whether that takes 30 hours a week or 60 (and it's often closer to the latter).

    Hourly employees are paid for chair time, and thus are actively lying if they stay on the clock while not doing actual work.

     

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  53.  
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    Just another fellow, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 10:27am

    Re: Right on!

    A-Man... He's referring to work days, which are 8 hour days. And he has to refer to work days as opposed to a 24-hour day.
    It's more accurate, and although the figures might not seem to be on our side, you've still got to be accurate with your maths, and anonymous coward is accurate...

     

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  54.  
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    Stoolio, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 10:35am

    Re: It is all in the Numbers...

    I do agree when you get 50 employees or more it becomes harder. I worked in IS for a company that had over 100,000 users.

    The issue I had with that company was the enormous amount of central power it thought it had to muster and the tremendous amount of time it took from production having meetings and making employees read and sign new policies every week.

    There is this arrogant attitude of large companies that "force" and micromanaging is the only solution.

    Want to know what I came up with that worked for the offices I was over?

    Two workstations were created with old machines for employees to use for personal use and these machines were off the network. No removable media drives either. All other internet access was turned off except for management and remote users. They were not turned off because anyone was actually doing anything wrong. But it made some corporate hacks feel better.

    We only did this because we found it let us get Corporate off our backs so we could do our damned jobs, instead of MIS dicking with us with every new scare they could come up with. There was one month we had twenty hours in meetings on policies alone.

    I was in charge of SOX for the Atlanta offices in my area so I know all about the challenges of securing a network on a global scale. You want to talk about an enormous waste of time and money? The first year we worked on SOX we went from 20% profitability each month to 40% in the hole.

    I just take issue with moronic companies who install internet access on all of their machines, then waste so much time and money hiring and buying technology just to secure their data all the time screaming about wasting time surfing.

    I have worked both sides in my industry- production and MIS. In doing so I have learned people skills that most of the IS/IT folks have no clue about. Most of my fellow IT brethren are good folks, but they also enjoy their power a little too much.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 10:52am

    Re: Right on!

    Wow...you must type FAST! All that in under 10 minutes!! Bravo!

     

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  56.  
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    John Lambert, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 11:22am

    Re: It is all in the Numbers...

    >On the whole though, this basic point is unavoidable. Stealing time is the same as stealing money.
    I think your "basic point" has an invalid premise. No one hires another person to work for an 8 hour day believing they are "buying" 28,800 seconds of continuous work. The closest anyone comes to that is the scum that runs sweatshops.

    Yes, stealing time is the same as stealing money or anything else. If I show up, "punch-in" on the time clock, leave, come back in 8 hours, "punch-out", then I'm stealing. I can't imagine anyone disputing that. However, I also can't imagine anyone actually expecting a human employee to stay on-task for 8 full hours for 8 hours pay.

    Say your employer "gives" you 2 fifteen minutes breaks and a 30 minute break during the 8 hours. Can you imagine any person staying on-task for no less than 7 hours? Did your thoughts wander for 1/2 second? Then you just stole a 1/2 second. Have you every taken 31 minutes on a 30 minute break? Watch it add up...

    No, I think the people doing the hiring, and managing are humans (most of them), and they themselves don't stay on-task without let-up. And regardless of policy, they expect everyone working for them to behave in the same way they themselves do.

    When managers try too hard to quantify everything so it can be "managed", it can easily become dehumanizing. You end up with proficiency experts looking over your shoulder with a stopwatch in one hand and a clipboard in the other.

    Hire me to accomplish tasks with sufficient quality and quality, for an agreed upon amount of compensation, that will be profitable for you. If I deliver according to our mutually agreed expectations while playing solitaire 4 hours a day, then I have not stolen anything from anyone.

     

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  57.  
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    Joe, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 11:31am

    Re: It is all in the Numbers...

    This is the point I wanted to make.

    Hourly vs. Salary makes a big difference.

    If I were running a business, I would not want to see hourly employees spending an hour or more surfing the internet. Lunch hour, breaks, before and after work, OK. 5 minutes every once in awhile, OK.

     

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  58.  
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    Stoolio, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 12:01pm

    Re: It is all in the Numbers...

    The morons at my old company made me get everyone to sign a policy they would not use the internet even at lunch time or after hours. Why? Because we were a 'global company' and surfing the web for non business functions after hours would be 'stealing' valuable bandwidth from offices in the European and Asian offices. HAHAHAHA
    What's worse was when corporate realized that all of the prepress houses they owned all used Macs. They actually wanted to migrate all of those workers to Windows. Yeah. Try and talk a bunch of twenty year Apple vets and design houses into using Windows for PS and ILL. Oh they had a strategy to retrain about 1000 people and throw out all the $$$$$ they just spent on new G5's and Mac software. Eventually they sold that part of the company after almost running it into the ground.

     

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  59.  
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    spam, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:23pm

    'porn' threat = overrated

    In all of my years (15+) as a desktop support/sysadmin monkey, I have *never* seen an employee look at hardcore porn while at work. None of my network admin or sysadmin friends have either. (And yes, we're the people responsible for monitoring the network)

    The whole fear of "OMG employees are looking at PORNO at WORK" is so totally overblown.

     

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  60.  
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    Fortune500drone, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 11:36pm

    Re: 'porn' threat = overrated

    In all of my years (15+) as a desktop support/sysadmin monkey, I have *never* seen an employee look at hardcore porn while at work. None of my network admin or sysadmin friends have either. (And yes, we're the people responsible for monitoring the network)
    The whole fear of "OMG employees are looking at PORNO at WORK" is so totally overblown.
    I just had one of these today. "Employee X" was coming in an hour before everybody else so they could browse porn on the high speed connection before the rest of the staff came in and chewed up all the precious bandwidth.

    It's rare, but it is real.

    OTOH, X still put in a full eight hour day, so if they didn't get their PC filled with spyware and keyloggers we would never have noticed or cared about the porn browsing...

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2006 @ 6:22pm

    Re: time wasting

    Good golly - you have an axe to grind. Why don't YOU take a break from time to time and just chill out? Yes, smokers take breaks, but other workers can do it too, and guess what - you don't HAVE to smoke to take a walk around the block!

    Try dropping the judgmental attitude and get up from your desk every now and then...

     

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  62.  
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    mark, Mar 5th, 2006 @ 12:34am

    Re:Legal issues

    Sure, an employer can restrict company networks however they want...we can all do without self-promotion disguised as phoney "studies". This stuff was thought to have been frowned upon since before LBJ...."nine out of ten doctors agree- Lucky Strikes are the cigarette with the least throat irritation" Pulleeeeeeze....

     

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  63.  
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    SH, Mar 5th, 2006 @ 8:12am

    Re: Right on!

    Wrong.
    Obviously you are the controlling type.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Patriot, Mar 5th, 2006 @ 11:52pm

    Re: Right on! (if you are an idiot)

    All that said, the real issue is the fact that using the internet for personal purposes is stealing time from your employer. It is the same as showing up an hour late everyday. I am not advocating for being someone's mom, or that all of us are sticking to the man, but an employer needs a documented pattern of abuse in order to deal with those who would steal from the company by abusing the Internet in this way. Thus, Filtering software. And beleive me, those of us who are don't do it resent those of you who do. Your employer should be ringing you up for violating the acceptable use policy and if you will not grow up and cut it out, they should fire you. By the way, I set up my filters to allow no pron, or offensive material, but I limit my users to 10 min. of personal internet use each day by my filter.

    Your “puritan work ethic,” will prevent you from ever being an effective management material, though you will make an excellent drone are so focused on the “rules” and on the “law” that you fail to recognize the purpose of work – to accomplish a task.

    Imagine a situation:

    Guy A, consistently shows up an hour late for work, takes a long lunch, never comes back from lunch on Friday, downloads a LOT of porn on the companies computer, yet always gets his allotted work done.

    Guy B, on the other hand is your wet dream. He shows up early, works for an hour before his shift starts, never pees, doesn’t know what porn is, never takes a lunch away from his desk, and is always ready to come in on Saturday when Lumburg asks; yet, for whatever reason – he never manages to get his work done – even when his workload is reduced.

    Who are you going to fire, and who are you going to promote? It doesn’t matter, Guy A quit your company two weeks ago, when you chewed him out for coming back from lunch late, to go work for a place that values humans – and your HR director is calling you (or at least your boss) wondering why there is so much employee churn in your department, and why qualified applicants keep asking him if the rumors about how soul sucking it is to work for you are true (they are)...

    I would bet you fire guy A, and promote guy B. Who do you suppose your boss is going to fire, now that he is spending more, and getting less done.

    You simply HAVE to move beyond this Industrial Age ideology that leads you to believe that chaining employees to their desks and working their fingers to the bone is what is best for employers.

    You HAVE to move beyond this repressive puritanical idea that if something makes life more enjoyable and better that it must be bad, and needs to be locked down.

    But you are right – Employers DO have a right to block internet access, and any number of other things that are designed to increase the amount of time an employee spends engaged in any given task, and generally insist on making their employees work lives as miserable as possible – but they are bumblefuck stupid if they do it.

     

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  65.  
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    Mikey, Apr 25th, 2006 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re: Right on!

    Each time I have seen this topic there is an extremely emotional response. Everyone seems to take the same old standbys. Those for lock down reference porn surfing, while those against talk about news and bank accounts

    As an IT person, we have had to fire a person for NUMEROUS porn surfing incidents. We have NEVER even bothered to talk to anyone about checking their bank account, personal e-mail or news.

    Open access is an issue for us due to the Internet streaming that employees do EVEN AFTER BEING WARNED BY MANAGEMENT TO STOP BECAUSE IT CAUSES EXTREME LATENCY ON THE NETWORK.

    My reality is that just a few knuckleheaded folks make it bad for everyone else and they SHOULD be rooted out for the greater good and a better workplace for everyone.

    Of course, there are factors with every case.

     

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  66.  
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    Mikey, Apr 25th, 2006 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re: Right on!

    I totally agree with filtering to root out the people who take advantage and cause pain for everyone else. I had no choice but to use filtering software because of less than 5 users out of 80.

    Another thing. Some employees cannot be fired so easily. They may be very highup the food chain so applying this accross the company is the only way to combat them without getting sued.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2008 @ 7:59pm

    Surfing equals theft of time from your employer? Nah??? Every time I look up from my work station I can see the screen of the woman across from me - surfing....drives me nuts!!!We work 8-4 - get paid for a half hour lunch and two breaks. She shops on lunch and returns late, fires up Live Chat, stuffs her face while not working but chatting, complains the files she is working on are a mess and she will need extra time to do the project and after arriving exatly at 8 she is out the door exactly at 4. Of the 7.2 hours she is actually to work out the 8 she is paid for she manages to work about 4.5 hours on a good day. She gets the same rate of pay as the rest of us.....sound fair? NAH!!!!!!

     

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