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Should Videos Be Banned in the Workplace?

The Wall Street Journal reports that a growing number of companies are thinking about blocking online videos in the workplace — blaming productivity loss and clogged pipes for such a draconian line of thinking. Folks at NewTeeVee are in a tizzy about this. “Online video is a great way for workers to kill five minutes in between soul-crushing meetings and memos,” writes Chris. Are companies overreacting? Or do they have a legitimate gripe? Take our poll and let us know what you REALLY think!

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11 Responses to “Should Videos Be Banned in the Workplace?”

  1. Let’s keep in mind that a happier worker is also a more productive worker… if you’re banning videos, might as well ban news & entertainment websites… workers should be judged by how much they get done and not if they watch a few videos in a day…

    I put up my constructive criticisms here:
    http://chide.it/post/46/

  2. Marla Mae

    This is a widespread epidemic across America.

    What is amazing to me is that it is “appropriate” to read a print newspaper in a cube farm (cubicle), but log onto CNN.com or Forbes, and all of the sudden you are less productive. The same is true for any type of informative video.

    While I understand the concept of Websense and why certain sites are blocked, it has gone too far now. IT departments and Upper Management need to catch up to the trends in technology that they ban before doing so.

  3. Om, I couldn’t pick and answer on your poll because it was missing one important option: “Please no, because online video is an increasing source of industry information and training for me.”

    Something like blocking YouTube that may have been obvious in the recent past is now becoming unacceptible. Just look at how companies like Nortel and Cisco have recently used YouTube to quickly get information to the masses on news:

    • Nortel posted daily video updates from Mobile World Congress for media in North America that couldn’t make it to the show.
    • Cisco posted product expert interviews for their ASR 1000 launch.

    Embedded video from YouTube is also easily added to blog posts, which are quickly becoming a more established way of communicating corporate news.

  4. Depends on the job. If you work in any sort of communications, media, creative or financial job, I’d argue that online video is a crucial portion of your daily regimen of world awareness (along with blogs, news sites, and even social networking sites). At my company (a television network) there’s a coax cable outlet at every desk, and a large percentage of employees have televisions in their cube or office. How else are you going to keep up with the competition? Banning online video in those situations would be shortsighted.

  5. Ok, I understand the rationale. Many a nights, I have ignored my sleep requirements in favor of watching videos of Japanese prank shows or Andy Samburg’s antics or Trigger Happy TV. You can’t have readily available, bite-sized entertainment interfering with productivity. That’s where these organizations’ minds are. I don’t think I’d watch those videos at work, but I might be tempted.

    On the flip side, this is 2008. Advanced internet media is barely out of diapers, and there’s no limit to what you can pull off the web. It’s almost at the stage where prohibiting internet video at work is analogous to removing the phone from workers’ offices. Perfect example: my organization stresses the importance of physical fitness and training. I use the Crossfit system which includes myriad exercises which sometimes I don’t know. Good thing they post video demonstrations of every exercise. Unfortunately, I can’t access these videos from work. So, in a sense, the restrictions in place on one end affect the priorities of my organization’s leadership on the other end.

    And that’s just one little example.

  6. I think it depends on the following:

    1) Bandwidth needed to run the business. If it gets in the way of the business it should be banned.

    2) Personnel productivity. If a person decides to take a break at their desks and watch a video for 5 minutes and it disciplined about it then it is fine. Otherwise, if it gets in the way of the business it should be banned.

    3) How it affects neighbors. Again, if it gets in the way of the business it should be banned.

  7. I’m not really sure if this is such a good idea in the long run. Personally, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand hours of working non-stop. I need to take a break every now and then in order for me to continue functioning efficiently for the next few hours. Or this may just be an excuse. Harhar.

  8. This is also common in big companies in Canada. To be honest, I don’t think it’s over-reacting, from having seen how much time is lost by workers surfing the Web. At the same time, I think there’s a risk of it affecting morale, especially if you know that people at Cie B can watch videos and read their emails but you can’t here…

  9. This is nothing new. Most of the video and audio sites are blocked across corporate America. If they are not blocked, the streaming is disabled and does not work properly.

    Most entertainment sites are blocked as well as the obviously offensive items. Netflix and Tvguide are blocked along with the major television networks.

    Websense is a public company with a primary focus on website filtering with over 200 million in annual revenue. Not sure why anyone is surprised.

  10. Prasoon

    Om, surprisingly many IT companies in India have already taken this step and they haven’t just stopped with lets say YouTube – even mail sites like Yahoo, Gmail are blocked. next in line are social networks like Orkut and popular sites like cricbuzz.com which kept us updated with Cricket scores. Now what else to cripple the bored workforce I wonder. :-)

    And yes, they ARE over-reacting.