Home Should Companies Restrict Web Access For Employees? Maybe a Little.

Should Companies Restrict Web Access For Employees? Maybe a Little.

Earlier today I was sitting in my office and, having crossed five tasks off the sticky note affixed to my laptop, checked in on Twitter, where amidst a slew other 140-character tidbits, lead New York Times tech blogger Nick Bilton had just shared a link to a rather interesting story in the New Yorker.

The article, titled In Praise of Distraction, takes a look at the proliferation of Internet-fueled, at-the-office distractions and whether or not they pose a significant problem for businesses.

Intuitively, yes, having employees spend all day on Facebook, YouTube and online shopping sites is bound to cut into productivity. But as the New Yorker article points out, some recent research suggests that restricting access to non-work-related content entirely can actually impede productivity.

Additionally, as the article notes, restricting Web access “creates a tyrannical work environment” which can damage morale among employees who, let’s face it, are more empowered than ever thanks to the Internet and social media. Many of these employees, it’s worth remembering, are carrying around Internet-connected smart phones that operate outside the corporate firewall.

Instead, some recommend a more measured approach in which employees are allotted pockets of time for browsing the Web, not unlike a coffee or smoking break.

For many professionals, the line can be pretty thin. For employees responsible for managing Facebook brand Pages,for example, your best friend’s cousin’s vacation photos are just a click or two, as is Farmville.

How do things work at your company? Are Websites restricted, semi-restricted or are employees free to surf?

Image courtesy of taberandrew on Flickr.

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