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
    JJ, 27 Aug 2009 @ 6:16am

    Somebody is wrong on the internet!

    I can tell you as an IT guy that most of the annoying policies at many companies (including controlling which programs people can run) are about legitimate security concerns, not some management bulls**t about "maximizing productivity."

    I fight hard at my company to convince management NOT to hurt productivity by blocking access to non-work sites like youtube and facebook (and somehow these sites may have just *happened* to fall off the blacklist a few times, heh) but that doesn't mean I'm in favor of giving all users full control. One extreme is just as absurd as the other. Opening up the systems would mean that a single honest mistake by any employee could create a security hole that would expose all of our customers' financial information.

    Imagine: your company has a serious data breach. It comes out that your policies were so lax that a single mistake by any one of your employees is all it would take to blow *everything* wide open. Do you really think you'd stand a chance in that lawsuit? You would lose, and you *should* lose, because that's an irresponsible way to treat sensitive information.

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