An ICT consultancy in New
Zealand published a report recently that found that roughly 25% of the browsing
done within a work environment and an astounding 80% of emails sent at work, are
for personal use.
The statistics show that most of that personal browsing is spent looking at
online trading sites, instant messaging/chat services and peer-to-peer sharing
Before I look at the solution to this “problem”, we need to ask ourselves
whether this metric is in fact accurate. The lines between personal and
corporate work have become more and more blurred. Most knowledge workers gain
significant work applicable information in the time they spend Facebooking or
Twittering, so it could be argued that at least some of the aforementioned 25%
is, by extension, work browsing.
Similarly with email – the distinction between work and personal
communication has become blurred – sure arranging Saturday football is personal
no matter which way you look at it – but there are cases where personal email is
justifiably occurring at work – not least because modern organisations demand a
high level of commitment by their workers – the Quid pro Quo of this is the
flexibility to “skive off” a little from time to time.
Into this alleged problem comes Mako Networks a business which allows companies to monitor,
control and protect networks remotely via the Internet. In essence an
administrator can see what every single device on his or her network is doing –
very much a case of big brother watching you. Mako is having some success
internationally with a number of telcos using their services.
Quite apart from the legal aspects of “spying” on ones workers, one has to
ask what services such as Mako’s do to the esprit de corps of an organization.
Labour (at least until the recent economic downturn) was scarce, Gen Y doesn’t
like being told what to do let alone watched – one can imagine an organisation
using every tool in the arsenal, but being left without any workers prepared to
actually exist under such an arrangement.
It’s a difficult situation and one with no simple answers – that said a
return (or a move depending on your historical perspective) to the Orwellian
vision is not the way to go.