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I was looking at the latest telework survey numbers to cross my desk (this time from the Wainhouse Research WebMetrics program), when it suddenly struck me: even though pretty much everyone I know is on the web, and most of them work there, there are still […]

I was looking at the latest telework survey numbers to cross my desk (this time from the Wainhouse Research WebMetrics program), when it suddenly struck me: even though pretty much everyone I know is on the web, and most of them work there, there are still plenty of working people who are not. That’s the flipside of some of the optimistic statistics we see. For example, this survey found that a record high 67% of their panel of companies used some sort of IM product – but that leaves 33% who do not. Similarly, though 39% have launched a green initiative in response to rising energy prices, and 26% have expanded their telework programs, 32% have made no changes at all.

Who are these people? Or, more to the point, who are their companies? If you’re working for a company that doesn’t let its people use the web, you’re probably not reading this – but perhaps you’re reading at home, on your own time. If so, I’d love to hear some stories about how your company locks down web access, and why they think this is a good thing.

By Mike Gunderloy

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  1. The last company I worked for blocked all forms of IM to prevent employees from chatting with the outside world. If you found a way around the block, you faced immediate termination. All that did was move the conversations to email, and internally, if you wanted to ask someone a question, you got up from your desk and went to their office, thereby completely disrupting the workflow of both people. Productivity went down and has stayed there. They’re still clinging to this plan after 4 years. The CIO also believes in web access by exception. Block everything, and unblock sites as requested so he can personally determine if you *really* need to visit that site.

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  2. Contrary to what “Dan Weese” said companies do not filter IM to prevent employees from chatting with the outside world. IM is a vector for viruses and other malware. Almost all IM clients support some sort of file exchange making it very easy for employees send confidential and proprietary company documents to anyone.

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  3. Contrary to the post above, the ONLY time that viruses have come into 3 companies I’ve worked at were through email, and not IM. And while I agree that IM can allow files to get out, many companies are handing out Blackberry, iPhone and similar “smart” devices which can walk the files out the door without any trace of the transfer. While some place may claim to ban IM to prevent virus/malware problems, most that I’m familiar with are worried more about potential productivity losses than virus introduction. Similarly, the companies that block access to sites like YouTube and other sites that stream video aren’t worried about viruses – it’s the (probably justified – that stuff is addictive…) worry about employees watching too much of it on work time.

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