Preventing Your Employees From Watching Videos Won't Prevent Them From Procrastinating

from the it'll-just-annoy-them dept

We've been saying for years that the notion that employee web surfing at work constitutes "lost profits" is nonsense. There is an infinite number of ways employees can waste time at work, from chatting with coworkers, reading magazines, or even taking a nap. Monitoring and restricting web surfing isn't likely to make employees procrastinate less, it'll just make them procrastinate in ways that are harder to monitor, and annoy them in the process. The Wall Street Journal has the latest example of surfing-at-work hysteria. Apparently the latest crisis is the time-wasting potential of Internet video sites. The funny thing about the article is that it inadvertently does a pretty good job of illustrating why blocking web-based video isn't a very good plan. One employee actually looked at clients' videos as part of his job, so he had to waste his own and the IT department's time seeking an exception every time he had a video he needed to watch in order to do his job. In an even more ridiculous case, an office had a mass shooting occur in a nearby mall, and all of the employees in the office apparently spent time complaining to the boss for permission to watch the news about it. Here, it was clear that the employees were already sitting around reading stories about the shooting, so they obviously weren't getting much work done. Yet for some reason the boss still seems proud of himself for preventing his employees from watching videos of the event. The article also cites bandwidth limitations as a reason for blocking online videos, but that seems like overkill. If upgrading bandwidth isn't an option (and bandwidth is getting cheaper every year) it seems like a much more straightforward approach would be to simply monitor total bandwidth consumption and warn the heaviest users to keep their consumption down. That would keep the network humming without treating employees like they're children.

Filed Under: employees, employers, procrastination, productivity, videos

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  1. icon
    chris (profile), 6 Mar 2008 @ 1:08pm

    try administering the network once in a while

    every network admin is so quick to wave the bandwidth flag when the truth is that if youtube causes your network problems, then you aren't administering your network very well.

    yes you can log activities and keep metrics. you're the network admin, that's your job. if you aren't logging and keeping good metrics, how do you know if your network is secure?

    if you can't identify and throttle/disconnect a host that is causing trouble on your network in a timely manner, how do you respond to virus outbreaks, malware, or intrusions?

    a handful of users can't possibly take down the whole network because you have it divided into subnets and you use vlans to prevent that, right?

    your externally facing servers aren't affected by the behavior of your users because your DMZ has it's own redundant connections and you have QOS rules to guarantee availability of the critical ones, right?

    for the guy with the single T1, most markets offer business class DSL with multiple megabit download speeds at a fraction of the cost of a T1, which is what the subnets on your user vlans should be using so you can save your T1 for your externally facing servers. bandwidth is cheap, T1's are not. you can have more than one uplink, all it takes is the right config on your router.

    restrictive IT policies create unhappy and subversive employees. you have enough to worry about keeping the badguys outside of your firewall, you don't want to compound your troubles by creating enemies inside the firewall as well.

    if you are the network admin, and you aren't administering the network, well then you are wasting way more time and money than those video watching coworkers of yours and you should do the company a favor and quit.

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