Time For IT Guys To Unshackle Corporate Computers

from the can't-do-that dept

This one ought to infuriate some of the IT folks, but Farhad Manjoo, over at Slate, is making the case for why corporate IT folks should give up trying to control everyone's computers. He says it's silly for them to dictate which apps you can and cannot use, what websites you can and cannot visit and what mobile devices you can and cannot use. He argues that doing so only restricts employees from actually doing useful and innovative stuff and also can make employees significantly less productive.

The response from IT folks will always be about the cost of maintaining all of this -- noting (perhaps correctly) that any time there are any problems, people will call up IT folks who will have to try to service all sorts of things, rather than having a standard list. And, of course, they'll say that users are often dumb, and prone to doing things that put computers and networks at risk. Thus, locking stuff down isn't only cost effective, but it's prudent to protect the company.

In the end, though, if that prevents important work from getting done (or done quickly), that seems like a problem. In the past, we've pointed out study after study after study suggesting that those who are actually allowed to do personal surfing at work are happier and more productive. Manjoo makes that point as well, mentioning recent studies that have shown the same thing and suggesting that companies that trust their workers on these sorts of things tend to get much more out of those employees.

Filed Under: it, limitations, personal surfing, security


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  1. identicon
    batch, 27 Aug 2009 @ 10:08am

    I work in IT, outsourced to many small businesses. In my experience, giving local admin privileges to the user doesn't cause problems most of the time. Obviously I have to rebuild a machine every 3-6 months, and get annoyed at the user who hangs around wanting to know when they'll have their computer back and being impatient with me. That's normal though, people won't take responsibility and then grief the person who is only trying to help. It gets balanced out when you make them twiddle their thumbs all day, sticking out like a sore thumb to everyone else who can honestly earn their pay that day.

    So long as you use a good firewall, external email proxy to filter spam and viruses, and good antivirus on the local network, the most users do is browse with Internet Explorer and install some minor crapware like Weatherbug.

    Let managers worry about people surfing the internet, IT can have the security in place to prevent all but willful damage to the computer while balancing the need of users to have some freedom, which they should have to be happier and more productive.

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