Companies like Websense sell their web filtering software to corporate clients. Their marketing material is pointing out how much productivity is lost due to employees casually surfing the web while at work. With Websense software corporations are able to restrict web surfing to certain websites and put monitoring in place. This allows to protect the corporations from malicious viruses entering the network from untrusted websites and to limit the overall Internet activity of employees to business related websites or to restrict the time a user spends surfing the web to a certain amount of time.
But do very strict Websense rules really increase productivity? How much restricting web usage is really good or when does it actually make the opposite come true?
Everyone does it. We all surf the web at work to take care of ordering a late Christmas present or to check the news real quick. Everyone needs to take a break every once in a while to get the head cleared out and to go back to work with a fresh start. And that kind of web surfing is Ok.
But what would happen if you can no longer visit Amazon.com or your local news site to check the weather forecast? It would be very frustrating. The more restrictive web filtering becomes the more can it cause grief for an employee. Some of us employees work 10-12 hours (or more) a day to get the job done. You love to work and you love the company you work for. The people are great and the office is nice. But now you can no longer take care of those small things like ordering flowers for your wife or girlfriend on the last minute because you forgot the anniversary or order a present with next day delivery for Uncle Joe. You had forgotten his 70th birthday until your wife called you this morning at work. What do you do now?
You can opt for letting things slip and place the order when you come home but then it might be too late for the order to be delivered the next day. Or you leave early from work to take of things yourself from home or you go shopping and ship the items the same day yourself. This still works but it becomes inconvenient. You give up own free time and work unpaid overtime to get the job done just to be kicked in the back when it comes to ask for a small (almost unnoticed) favor in return.
If the restrictions on web usage become too tight a company can actually destroy motivation and the feeling that people like to go to work. If you do not feel comfortable going to work anymore because you feel being spied on, your productivity will go down. If you cannot at least do the occasional Internet stuff anymore you might feel frustrated and ask yourself why waste valuable time on unpaid overtime in return. Companies should revisit their web usage policies quite often and re-evaluate how much web monitoring and filtering is really needed. A survey about potential web usage and web usage policies can provide valuable feedback and a well-tuned Websense policy in place can meet both parties involved: the hard working employee and the employer trying to maximize productivity.
Mr. Christoph Puetz is a successful entrepreneur and international book author. Websites of Christoph Puetz can be found at Hosting Help and at Highlands Ranch Colorado.
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