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. icon
    MikeC (profile), 27 Aug 2009 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re:

    Obviously Chris you are not an IT support person. I've been doing real support since 1987 ... in todays world with every manf putting the cheapest handiest part in every machine keeping proper images of all machines and possible configs is a daunting proposition. Not to mention keeping those images up-to-date is almost impossible. I work for an integrator (after 15 years in corporate support) and my advice (often ignored) is to store all real data on the network, keep machines generic, keep your protection programs up-to-date with a centrally managed tool, lock down your firewall/content scan, and scan your email with an outside service (incoming & outgoing).

    But when a company has 100 users and only 1 part-time IT person(who is not a professional IT person, the norm for a lot of companies today) it's almost impossible to find the resources so locking everything down is the only possible solution. Lost productivity for an individual user is nothing compared to the lost productivity when documents are lost, machines crippled, etc.

    Sad, but just the plain fact. Since windows dominates, learn group policies, learn security and lock them down will make your overall users more productive.

    But you must be open to every new advance and listen to your users needs (not just requests)... if the ask to do something they cannot do, then make a business case for it and implement it if there is a reason too. Our job here is to listen to the users and give them what they need, not what they think they want. We have to make sure we understand what they want to accomplish and work with them to provide that capability. That doesn't mean deny them every thing, just make sure it will provide a benefit, embrace the technology to make the company more efficient, responsive, etc.

    IT staffs get into a rut of not learning and not growing like everyone else and it's even more deadly, but still you don't do things just because they are cool, they have to have a solid business reason behind them.

    Just remember change is inevitable, but growth has always been optional.

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