Thursday, August 24, 2006

Is your internet working?

Is your work interneting?

APC Magazine:
Jobseekers will think twice about employers who lock down work internet access, a senior Microsoft executive said today.

“These kids are saying: forget it! I don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t be freely online during the day,” said Anne Kirah, Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist.
. . .
“Companies all over the world are saying, oh, you can’t be on the internet while you’re at work. You can’t be on instant messaging at work…” she said. “These are digital immigrant ideas.” Kirah defines ‘digital immigrants’ as people who were not born into the digital lifestyle and view it as a distraction rather than an integral part of life. The younger generation of workers have been using computers and mobile phones since birth and she calls them ‘digital natives’.
. . .
People were increasingly making use of anonymous proxies that couldn’t be easily blocked by corporate firewalls, bringing in their own wireless broadband services for use with a personal laptop or with a work PC or accessing instant messaging via mobile phones and PDAs.
It's nice to see that Microsoft finds anthropologists useful.

About one-quarter of employee terminations are due to misuse of workplace Internet privileges, according to a recent survey. In a case that gained attention earlier this year, a New York administrative law judge found Internet use no worse than using the phone or reading a newspaper at work.

But companies usually don't share that view. Some firms find employee cyber-slacking cause enough for disciplinary action, and others gear their policies toward warding off lawsuits -- and financial ruin -- stemming from employee e-mails or blogging.
Perhaps Microsoft was reacting to reports like this:
This year's biggest time-killer was personal use of the Internet. Of the 2,700 people quizzed in the unscientific survey, 52 percent said they wasted more time online than any other way. (The survey, by the way, was conducted online, and some responded: "I waste my time filling out surveys like this.")

Other top time-wasters included: socializing with co-workers, running errands and spacing out. "Staring blankly at the computer screen remains to be quite a popular choice," the study concluded.

In addition to polling workers, surveyed human resource managers, who said companies assume workers waste nearly an hour each day. The difference between the slacking that companies budget for and the true amount costs U.S. companies a combined $544 billion per year, according to the survey.
But if you gave a firm a magic wand and told them they could prevent workers from using any paid time for personal use would they use that wand? A worker forced to work harder will demand greater compensation. It may be cheaper to allow them some slack. That's what Kirah is saying.


Blogger Seabee said...

Kirah defines ‘digital immigrants’ as people who were not born into the digital lifestyle and view it as a distraction rather than an integral part of life.

Many of us were born into a newspaper/books/comics lifestyle, but we didn't take them into the office to read during working hours.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Acad Ronin said...

Many, many years ago I was chatting with a manpower planner for a top defense aerospace manufacturer. She told me that when the engineers told her that a job would take 4000 man-hours to complete, she would divide by five, not eight, to calculate the number of man-days it would require. Her view was that day in and day out, people had five good hours in them. You could get people to work harder for a while, but that's what it would average out to. You could also spread it out over an eight hour day or longer, it still would average out to five hours per day of productive labor. All the computer does is widen the ways to use the other three hours in the eight hour day.

6:20 AM  
Blogger muscati said...

Where I work they use software called WebSense to regulate our internet access which basically blocks all web-based email sites, blogs, chat rooms, discussion forums, entertainment sites, etc etc. And yet still there are days where I waste hours away online even though the connection's slower than mud.

10:36 PM  

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