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Selective internet ban given thumbs up by workers

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Bosses who provide a half-way house that allows workers restricted usage to the internet, social networking sites and email for personal use, are reaping the benefits.

According to a new study by IT solutions and services provider Dimension Data, the boundary between professional and private internet usage is becoming increasingly blurred and businesses that opt for a selective ban are faring better than those that go to one extreme.

The study shows that the internet is enmeshed in people’s working lives, with 46 per cent of British workers who have internet access in the office conducting online banking at work, and nearly one in five using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Instant messaging (18 per cent), file sharing (13 per cent) and downloading of media files such as MP3s (10 per cent) are also popular.

Fourteen per cent have no access at work at all, 38 per cent have unrestricted access and 46 per cent are not allowed access to certain websites, showing the varied responses by bosses.

Alastair Broom of Dimension Data said: “For many people in a wide range of industries the internet is essential to getting their job done. More than this, it is often a vital tool in maintaining their productivity and work/life balance. Online banking at work, for example, can mean less time wasted in queues and more time for work or a proper, relaxing lunch break.

“And younger workers, who have grown up with the internet, are accustomed to using it at home and expect to use it at work. In their case especially, draconian measures such as an outright ban may have a profound negative impact on the perception of the organisation as an employer, and they may find a way around it anyway.”

Dimension Data advises businesses to accept that employees sometimes access the internet for personal use, introduce an ‘acceptable use policy’ for internet access, implement internet security technology, control instant messaging and peer-to-peer application usage.

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Annie Hayes

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