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
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2009 @ 4:23am

    There's a big difference between allowing web surfing and giving total control to users. I once had to give a user elevated priviliges to allow him to test some software. A few days later his computer was infected with spyware that forced a rebuild of the system. This was because the user downloaded some "tools" he needed to test the software, none of which were approved for use. So it was a lost day for me rebuilding his PC and for him because he had to sit and twiddle his thumbs all day.

    About ten years ago when we put in the first network monitoring tools we discovered that two-third to three-quarters of our network bandwidth was being taken up by users streaming audio using RealPlayer.

    Bottom line is you give users full control over their PCs and the next morning everybody will be running iTunes and streaming music and be downloading videos from Pirate Bay and saying "well if they didn't want us to do this stuff they shouldn't have let us in the first place."

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