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. identicon
    Mindless corporate drone, 14 Mar 2008 @ 8:11pm

    Wasting time

    It has always amazed me how incompetent management tries to come up with ways to make sure people work every minute they are on the job. Downtime and distraction during a busy workday are important and actually beneficial to re-energizing and getting work done.

    A manager should be able to give an employee tasks to complete and agree on a timeframe that it should take to accomplish those tasks. If an employee spending hours on youtube then you have not given them enough to do, and that's a failure in your ability to manage. If a person is challenged and busy and has realistic deadlines and goals to meet, they will not waste time.

    If a person puts in extra time after hours to get the task done and they want to spend 15 minutes checking something on facebook when they should probably be taking a break anyway, just let them.

    What happens instead is most managers are under qualified to lead a team, and have no idea what their employees actually do. So to compensate for their own deficiencies they institute fascist web policies preventing people from accessing what are sometimes actually business related sites.

    Here's a good example, my employer block facebook and myspace, but they don't block LinkedIn... because all the manager use that. I've received more LinkedIn invites in the past month than I've ever received in facebook in the year or two I've been a memeber.

    Leave the web open, send your managers to training and everyone will benefit.

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