Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blocking non-business internet access

In the face of all these problems, many managers" first reaction might be to block all employee access to the internet.
It makes sense to block certain sites outright. Pornography sites are an obvious example, but most companies may also consider gambling and game sites as utterly unrelated to work, potentially time-wasting and block them as well. Ninety-six percent of employers who block web access are concerned about employees visting adult sites with sexual content. Companies also use URL blocks to stop users from visiting game sites (61%), social networking sites (50%), entertainment sites (27%) ; sports sites (21%) and external blogs (18%) according to the 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.
However, completely blocking internet access may not be the right approach for your business.
Monitoring employee behavior onlineMonitoring inappropriate use may seem to be the lesser of two evils compared with blocking access to large parts of the internet. Having blocked the worst websites, you may wish to trust your employees" judgement. You may want to allow employees access to social networking sites if it means that they can organize their social life without spending hours on the phone. You might also allow people to shop online if it saves them time and lets them achieve a better work-life balance.
Keep in mind, when you decide to allow employees access to the internet, it is in your best interest to ensure that they are aware of the laws around electronic communications in the workplace. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) makes it clear that a company-provided computer system is the property of the employer. U.S. employers have the legal right to monitor all employee computer activity, transmissions and content- including incoming, outgoing and internal email messages, as well as web surfing, downloads and uploads. Making sure your employees are aware of the laws surrounding internet usage may encourage them to use better judgement when surfing the net.

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