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
    Kaine, 30 Aug 2009 @ 2:02am

    How can you tell if your company has good IT staff?
    they are sitting in their office with their feet up reading a magazine while everyone else is working. Good IT staff are not running round like a chicken with their heads cut off cleaning up viruses, encting Disaster Recovery plans every second day or constantly rebuilding computers.

    Installing anti virus software does not mean you will not get a virus and installing anti spyware software does not mean you will not get spyware.

    I worked for a company who liked to cave in to particulalry loud users and give them admin rights on their computers until one day one of them installed a virus on his computer that he thought was a key generator for a copy of Creative suite that he downloaded with via bit torrent. This wonderful virus systematically went through modifying all picture files, word and excel documant and html files on his computer and all share drives he had access to. It was not picked up till the next day and took a lot of people hours to restore all the data, which in turn meant that the entire company lost 2 days of work. I still have a copy of that virus and to this day I still have not found a scanner that picks it up. However if he had not been allowed to install anything on his copmuter it would not have happened.

    Not only does locking down a computer stop threats that you know about, it also stops many, many more that you have never heard of yet. It has nothing to do with being a petty tirant. IT staff have a lot of pressure put on them. We have to protect data for the entire company from constantly evolving threats. If something goes wrong we have our heads on the chopping blocks not the users who act dumb when somthing they have done causes major problems. And because of that we will employ any method we can that helps. There is a hell of a lot more to it than can be seen from the users side so please do not make stupid judgements when you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

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