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
    Kevin, 27 Aug 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: I'm an IT Pro

    also, if your company's data and whatever is so sensitive (banks, gov't, military, etc.), then put your "sensitive" stuff on a separate network and only allow locked down machines to access it (virtual machine, thin client, etc.) via encrypted connections.

    Yeah, because that's easy and cheap to implement and users won't throw a fit about having to jump through hoops "just to do their jobs" with the sensitive info.

    Seriously, we all know that there is a balance between good security and usability. The most secure computer in the world is one that can't be used, and the most usable is likely unsecured. You just have to find a balance that works for you. In my case, I would never let a user run with full admin rights on any PC or server. The risk just isn't worth it, whether it's the risk of system compromise, malware infection, espionage, or even unlicensed software. And that's before you even run into the issues of supportability.

    Think about it...most users today don't like IT because they're not getting the level of support that they need. If IT were to open the systems and let people run with full admin rights the number of systems that need to be whacked and rebuilt on a regular basis would skyrocket. That would cause support costs to go up, resolution time to go down, and people would just be even more unhappy with the level of support that they get.

    The reality is that we lock down the systems for a reason. Usually the only people who complain about having their systems locked down are the people who would do the most damage if their systems weren't locked down, usually without even realizing it.

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