Should you care about employees browsing the Internet?

Technology developments make us more productive than ever before – right?

Well, let’s consider a few things and think about this from a management point of view:

–  Information about virtually anything is much more accessible via the Internet.
–  Ability to communicate with one another is much better via e-mail and cell phones.
–  Every company can afford computer equipment and more productive processes.
–  Work is completed faster and easier with innovative software and equipment.

–  People productivity is reduced by so many distractions.
–  With greater communication accessibility comes more interruption.
–  Many people are not disciplined to avoid non-productive distractions of the Internet.

Great technology can be a double-edged sword, , , advantages that also come with many disadvantages. So, what this means is that it all comes down to how you manage technology in your company.

Do you have an Internet Usage Policy in your company?

Should you have one, , , or do you really want to manage the use of the Internet in your company in that way, , , by telling your people what they can and cannot do with the Internet at work?

This can be a delicate issue.

My sense is that you want people to be focused to do their jobs when at work. How they get the work done, I’m not so sure I really care about  as long as they accomplish our organization’s goals and objectives.

Well, here is the rub. Maybe your team is great in supporting your client but if they are seen playing solitaire or browsing the Internet on their PC much of the time, , , it sends the wrong signal to the client.

Even if the client does this as well, when they see an IT person “goofing off”, it’s a bigger deal to them.

One of the earmarks of a successful IT organization is professional conduct. Playing games and simply browsing the Internet is not professional conduct. No matter how good your IT organization is in supporting your client, , , there are positive things you can do in supporting your business if your people have lots of spare time on their hands.

Lots of spare time would at a minimum suggest you are probably spending too much money in IT staff, , , and that’s a negative.

As a manager, I don’t care that people browse the Internet as long as it is work related and something that benefits their efforts to support our client. The Internet in this regard is a tool to help us succeed.

What I do mind is when people are distracted from our support work and browse the Internet or play games that don’t benefit our company.

This again is a double-edged sword. IT professionals do things in their non-work hours that benefit the company and often use the Internet to help them in these efforts. It is difficult for me to be bothered if they are not 100% productive at work and expect them to do things outside of work to improve their skills and support our client.

What would be great would be if we could create very objective measurements as to whether IT people are successful in doing their jobs like you can for a salesman.

In sales, it is cut and dry. The salesman makes his monthly sales quota and we are happy, , , he doesn’t  and he fails in his job, , , it is that simple.

We don’t care how the salesman spends his time as long as he achieves his quota. In fact, management might even look at such a situation that if a salesman can make his quota and work only 10% of a normal week, , , we would be happy.

The key with sales  is that we can create a specific quota objective and hold the salesman accountable. What makes him more accountable is that he doesn’t get paid unless he sells. He either succeeds or the sales management process and how we pay a salesman weeds out the losers.

It’s more difficult in IT to develop such clear cut objectives, , , but what this says is that we need to develop very objective performance plans that include specific goals and objectives and hold our people accountable.

In reality , you don’t really care how an employee spends the day as long as he is successful. The problem develops if your client perceives members of your team are “goofing off”. This really is an issue to be concerned about.

Coach your employees on the “proper use” of the Internet, phones and other technologies that help their productivity but are quick to take them out of productive work mode.

Remember, client perception is a big deal when you are a support organization, , , no matter if you are the IT Organization or Human Resources.

One response to “Should you care about employees browsing the Internet?

  1. We decided to allow banking and news sites at all times during the day. Other sites like sport or general google searches are allowed only at certain times during the day. Sites like Facebook or Twitter are not allowed at all. Senior management reported a definite *increase* in staff productivity since we made the change.

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