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
    chris (profile), 27 Aug 2009 @ 6:45am

    Re: 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.

    no it's not. if you don't want to use images then you can slipstream drivers into your install disc. the technology is free you just have to learn how to do it and take ownership of the process.

    i have worked in IT support (doing it now) and i have worked in software development. so i have been on the IT side trying to keep people from wrecking stuff, but i have also been on the development side, being prevented from doing my job by draconian IT policies.

    i always found a way around, but it made me the enemy. that is the problem: working against the people inside the firewall, when you should be working against the people outside the firewall.

    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.

    no, it means the IT department sucks, which was my original point.

    Lost productivity for an individual user is nothing compared to the lost productivity when documents are lost, machines crippled, etc.

    yeah, it's called disaster recovery. i do it everyday, and if your IT guys can't help you recover from a disaster, they suck, also my original point.

    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.

    i used to think that 10 years ago, but i don't anymore. after being on the other side of IT, i understand the frustration that people feel when they can't do their jobs. IT support is also about supporting people, not just servers and applications.

    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.

    yeah, and 6 month approval processes for everything just hold people back. change is not just inevitable, it's accelerating and that will be what separates successful companies from roadkill.

    so you can sit on your hands and hide behind policies and other bureaucracy as an excuse for not getting things done, or you can move the envelope back a little and be part of the solution.

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