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Unread 08-23-2006, 11:05 AM   #1
Whale Biologist
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Default The Internets @ Work

Microsoft's Chief Anthropologist has said that people don't want to work for internet-restricted employers. The discussion has already been taken to the mat over at Slashdot, and the best bits can be read hnyah. My question, which I am posting from work, is this:

What do you think?

What do you think about the pros / cons / ethical / moral / fascist aspects of restricting what is essentially social interaction at work? I'll sum up the major points.

GOOD: A happy employee is a productive employee.

CON: Your boss's time, your boss's money.

GOOD: Short freedom breaks throughout the day help calm a busy mind.

CON: You can't not use the net for eight hours, you whiny bitch?

GOOD: Uhm... a happy employee is a productive employee?

CON: It's work, not play. Work. So work.

Now, I freely admit that I have somewhat of a problem in this regard, as I have been ORDERED to stop several times... and I always come back. People in the office have been fired (re-read... FIRED) because the network admin reads their personal e-mails, so I'll probably get a talking-to for asking this, but... what do you all think?

I have to go offline now. Discuss!
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Unread 08-23-2006, 11:50 AM   #2
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Let me start by prefacing this that I work in IT, have so for the past 6 years so I probably have a different perspective.

First I don’t care how “productive” the users (or losers as us technical people call them) are. It’s also not a valid argument to make. Some people have large spans of empty time, others have something to do at all hours of the day. You can’t just say “goofing around on the internet costs productivity and decreases profit” because that’s just not true.

Let me use myself (and any typical IT department) as an example. For part of the day I do nothing. Everything is up and running, no impending crisis, it’s a nice relaxing day. I watch TV, play video games (rarely at work but I still do) talk with the other people in the department because there isn’t a damn thing to do. Now and then there is a minor problem that takes 10 minuets to fix. However when there is a crisis we bust our asses for days on end, in some cases weeks. I even have a company phone so they can call me back should something truly and utterly fuck up, or if something major shits the bed. Also whenever anything goes wrong it’s real high stress.

Here is where the problem is: users downloading files, watching porn, or doing other activities that pose a security risk. This is why network admins lock down certain features, spy on people, or have overly restrictive security rules. It’s very important that they do this.

Knowing this ask yourself if what you’re doing poses a risk? It’s your IT department that’s going to bust you anyways and they sure as shit don’t care how much time your on as long as you aren’t doing anything that isn’t a security risk, or isn’t going to make life hard for them.

Now if you work in the kind of place where your boss is looking over your shoulder at what you are doing, then you have bigger problems at work then just internet use.
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Unread 08-23-2006, 11:55 AM   #3
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Well, it isn't so much a security risk here.

1.) I'm not retarded, so I don't go to sites that plug me full of malware / spyware.
2.) The network tech guy spends all day on MSN and Limewire. I came to work one day last year and a goodly chunk of the network drive was taken up by Star Wars: Episode III.
3.) ALL day, EVERY day, is a god-damn panic around here, and I can't work for two years straight in a frenzy all day long. I check my e-mail, I check my forums, I occaisionally do turns in a PBEM game... and I still get all my work done before my deadlines. OBVIOUSLY if my distractions were removed, I'd be EVEN faster... and when that DOESN'T happen, my boss cuts back hours in order to make up the loss.

Yay, logic.
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Unread 08-23-2006, 12:39 PM   #4
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1. You might not be. However most users are, thus every tech assumes that all users are liars and idiots, it’s the first golden rule of IT. Rules are based of the lowest common denominator, if one person is stupid enough to do it, you assume everybody is that stupid.
2. Being able to pull stunts like that is one of the perks of the job. Sorry that’s just how it goes.
3. Sounds like a work and a boss issue.
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Unread 08-23-2006, 07:46 PM   #5
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Now, i don't have any experience in this matter, but a few things jump to mind when i read this thread.

1 - It's a job. Not leisure time. Sure, it would be nice to have a job where you can sit around playing Counterstrike and browsing the internet for an hour or two at a time, but most of the time that's not the case. You're there to do your job, not fuck around.

2 - It is perfectly within your bosses right to restrict internet. They want you to do your work on their dollar, not send emails and download music.

3 - You might use the argument "Well, i have nothing to do so why can't i use the internet the way i want when i'm finished?". If you find yourself thinking this, then you don't have enough to do at work. Find something that needs doing and do it. Not only will you not be thought of as being lazy your superiors will see this as initiative and may give you a promotion/raise in salary.

So in short, all unrestricted internet does at work is encourage people to be lazy and not do their work. If it is restricted, you get your work done. Your boss probably prefers the latter, and not the former. All in all, i'm all for restricted internet access at work. I understand it's not leisure time, why can't everyone else?
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Unread 08-23-2006, 09:58 PM   #6
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I work third shift at a plant performing ESS testing. We have recently fired 58 people for forwarding "inappropriate" emails. I agree that net usage at work should be restricted to areas that do not harm the professional side of your work time. Also the majority of older folks just shouldn't be allowed near a gameboy much less an internet terminal. Safe usage is a major corporate issue and many people have no idea what it is they are doing online, so some restriction is good. However getting fired because of a pop-up that shows up on web sense as a game related site or someone e-mails you a phallic joke is a little much. In any line of business you spend time not working, its just how it goes. Much like Steve says when you have a small workload you have to do something, just don't let it get in the way when it's time to bust ass.
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Unread 08-23-2006, 10:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
If you find yourself thinking this, then you don't have enough to do at work. Find something that needs doing and do it. Not only will you not be thought of as being lazy your superiors will see this as initiative and may give you a promotion/raise in salary.
Yours are the views of madmen and Randians.

Fie on thee I say! Fie!

Honestly, speaking as someone who pisses away way too much time on the internet, I would totally be okay if my office just completely took away the internet. I mean not even from everybody, just as for myself, I mean, there is really no good reason on my job why I should need to even have the internet.

I mean honestly, even to the extent that I just end up, like, screwing off doing other stuff for however much of the day? It's still probably better, all things considered, than pissing time away on the internet.

Email monitoring always struck me as several levels of awful, though. Especially since most places block any kind of web-based email, on top of that. It's like fuck, why not just tap my fuckin' phone too, you pricks? And any time this argument comes up, someone has to go and bring up, well it's theirs, so they have the right to do it. It's like congratulations boss, you have the right to be an obnoxious prick, really but hey, thanks for comin' out.
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Unread 08-23-2006, 11:11 PM   #8
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They tap the phones, too... the office phone network, at any rate. Calls are recorded and uploaded to the Admin's ftp.
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Unread 08-24-2006, 12:19 AM   #9
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Having worked for a pretty big corporation before, I can say that internet usage, in moderation and given some very sensible minor restrictions (ie, no porn and no gaming) actually increased as opposed to decreased my overall productivity.

I see it this way. Would you rather have an employee work an average of 60 out of every 60 minutes you're "hiring" him, but be totally drained of energy, exhibit no signs of happiness and not be in a relaxed mood? Or, would you rather have an employee take an average of 5 minutes every hour 'off' to look at a random news website, but spend the other 55 minutes per hour working his butt off?

That's pretty much how it was for me. It's a proven fact; everyone needs a break. Not an hour-long break, not even a fifteen-minute long break, but when we're on the job, we need to take about three or four minutes every hour, at least, to do something non-work related. If we don't, our energy and our stamina actually empirically decrease. We're more tense, more irritable, and just tired.

I figure if a corporation is going to require you to essentially work overtime without pay, which most salary positions pretty much do anyway, why not ask them for a bit of common sense in return, and let you 'goof off' for just a few minutes an hour? Frankly it's a manager or a supervisor's job to check in on employees, so any employee who's goofing off all the time should be caught in the act without having to severely restrict everyone else's net access. If an employee can goof off for hours on end, then it's the manager's fault for not doing his job.

Here's one other thought; if your employers expect the right to be able to call your cell phone when you're technically 'off-duty', if we're entering an era where we're really sort-of on the job "24 hours a day", and if our careers are messing with our personal lives, why can't just a tiny bit of our personal lives enter the cubicle, too?

I'd bet more than 95% of the folks who occasionally visit sites on the internet while they're working don't abuse it, and 95% -- at the very least -- are capable of doing damn fine jobs in their careers even despite the occasional 'distraction.'
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Unread 08-24-2006, 10:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Snake
Having worked for a pretty big corporation before, I can say that internet usage, in moderation and given some very sensible minor restrictions (ie, no porn and no gaming) actually increased as opposed to decreased my overall productivity.
Well, you're better off than me, then. Having been deprived of technology as a child, ANY temptation during work or life really hurts my productivity. And I always find myself trying to rationalize my abuses of company time (just one more game/e-mail/forum post couldn't hurt, could it?).

Quote:
I figure if a corporation is going to require you to essentially work overtime without pay.....why not ask them for a bit of common sense in return, and let you 'goof off' for just a few minutes an hour? Frankly it's a manager or a supervisor's job to check in on employees, so any employee who's goofing off all the time should be caught in the act without having to severely restrict everyone else's net access. If an employee can goof off for hours on end, then it's the manager's fault for not doing his job.
That's right. Personally, I believe that managers are responsible for making the workplace as productive as possible, but not too stressfull at the same time. This should involve a careful balance of work versus free time. The problem I see is that many employers and managers expect too much productivity from workers, more than the workers can actually handle. We need more realistic expectations.

Quote:
I'd bet more than 95% of the folks who occasionally visit sites on the internet while they're working don't abuse it, and 95% -- at the very least -- are capable of doing damn fine jobs in their careers even despite the occasional 'distraction.'
Well, I apologize for being part of the 5% who screw things over for the rest of you.
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