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Unlock Internet or Risk Losing Staff? 519

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the productivity-still-the-bottom-line dept.
Dan Warne writes "People don't want to work for employers who heavily restrict internet access, a senior Microsoft executive said in a keynote speech at the opening of Tech.Ed 2006 Sydney today. From the article: 'These kids are saying: forget it! I don't want to work with you. I don't want to work at a place where I can't be freely online during the day," said Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist Ann Kiera. She dubbed internet-wary employers "digital immigrants" and said the new wave of younger workers were "digital natives".'"
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Unlock Internet or Risk Losing Staff?

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  • by ZiakII (829432) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:08AM (#15961737)
    Nothing for you to see here move along...

    Damn work filters.....I'm quiting
    • by cluckshot (658931) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:12AM (#15961785)

      The issue of internet access at work and its use is a curious one. We have been allowing people to use the telephone at work for years in a limited fashion. As long as it didn't invade the work day too much it was sort of accepted. It also generally wasn't recorded.

      Internet is just telephone communications. No different. Treating it differently isn't wise. The employers are right though if the use gets out of hand.

      There is of course the problem of not knowing what browsing is legitimate anyway. This isn't easy to determine either. Remember that clicking on a link might be accidentally the wrong one or you might be searching a topic and get one of those trick sites listed for the Porn types. It isn't really a matter of any or filters, it is a matter of content and time.

      • by jcorno (889560) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:25AM (#15961872)
        Internet is just telephone communications. No different. Treating it differently isn't wise.

        They're not treating it differently. Show me an employer who doesn't mind employees spending all day on the phone making personal calls. That's the problem. Like you, they don't see the difference.
        • by schon (31600) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:38AM (#15961976)
          They're not treating it differently.

          Yes, they are.

          Show me an employer who doesn't mind employees spending all day on the phone making personal calls.

          Show me an employer who places indiscriminate blocks on numbers that you can call during the day, in order to prevent you from making calls that *might* be personal.
          • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@connexerMENCKEN.com minus author> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:54AM (#15962104) Homepage

            Show me an employer who places indiscriminate blocks on numbers that you can call during the day, in order to prevent you from making calls that *might* be personal.

            Show me a telephone number which you can dial and that, by the simple act of connection, results in the infiltration of your company's office such that your Intranet data (e.g., customer personal info, credit cards, etc) can be leaked out.

            I'm not saying they should block everything or even anything. But, treating browsing the web the same way as a telephone call is horribly short sighted from a security perspective. I imagine that information leaks out, the leadership will have more worries than how the employees feel about having their Internet access restricted. Look at the recent situation at AOL. I know that was not the result of a random virus, but that result is certainly achievable with a well crafted virus. If you are a big enough target, it is a legitimate worry.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Another issue is that people know when you are on the phone, so it is kind of self regulating. (Yes there are exceptions such as private offices). People can surf the web for hours and look like they are working.... It is tougher to have 4 hour private calls w/out everyone knowing that you aren't working....
              • by Brushfireb (635997) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:45AM (#15962463)
                True, but this is a HR and Management problem more than a security or blocking one.

                If people have projects, and they complete them on time, with good quality, then what does it matter? The problem is that many managers (myself included, occasionally) fall into the trap that people should be working all the time, and thats really not a good way to do things. Some people are incredibly productive for 2 hours, and do nothing for the rest. Others work diligently, but slowly, for 8 hours. At the end of the day, if they turn out the same product, what does it matter?

                THe real problem is that most management and large companies do not have effective project and work measurement systems and expect their employees to work like robots.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by speculatrix (678524)
                  Some people are incredibly productive for 2 hours, and do nothing for the rest. Others work diligently, but slowly, for 8 hours

                  if I were an employer, I'd not pay the faster worker any more than the slow worker if the former didn't actually do more work in total than the latter. I'd pay people by the amount of useful work they did, if i could, not by their appearance of being busy!

                  however, I work for an organisation which is very wasteful of money and time, such that it's like swimming in treacle to achi

                  • Chester and Lester (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by tepples (727027)

                    if I were an employer, I'd not pay the faster worker any more than the slow worker if the former didn't actually do more work in total than the latter. I'd pay people by the amount of useful work they did

                    Chester and Lester are your employees. What Chester does in 8 hours Lester can do in 2 hours and at the same level of quality, but Lester can work only for 2 hours per day. I take it you would pay both employees the same rate per day, right? If so, that was Brushfireb's point. And I agree with your point

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by aaarrrgggh (9205)
              Show me a telephone number which you can dial and that, by the simple act of connection, results in the infiltration of your company's office such that your Intranet data (e.g., customer personal info, credit cards, etc) can be leaked out.

              Have you not heard of Social Engineering? Same risk, possibly without the automation, but not dangerously far away.

              The problem is that any kind of filtering is not likely to have the desired impact. A former employer had a Big Brother system installed, and the net result
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by coolGuyZak (844482)
              Show me an employer who ...

              Show me a telephone number which ...
              Show me the money!! *ducks*
            • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:49AM (#15962501) Journal
              Show me a telephone number which you can dial and that, by the simple act of connection, results in the infiltration of your company's office

              Hello, New York Times? Get me your best reporter, I've got a memo in my hands that outlines SuperMegaCorp's plans to test drugs on people by lacing their subsidiary's canned foods.
            • by jafac (1449) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:47AM (#15962961) Homepage
              Show me a telephone number which you can dial and that, by the simple act of connection, results in the infiltration of your company's office such that your Intranet data

              Think about this.
              Most of the best hacks are via social engineering.
              The classic social engineering hacks are done via telephone.
        • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:32AM (#15962378)
          Show me an employer who doesn't mind employees spending all day on the phone making personal calls.

          My first job after college was as a computer programmer for the US Federal government. We had a few older employees who rarely did any real work, but spent most of their time making personal calls and talking to other employees who were also avoiding doing any real work. I remember one guy who was close to retirement who honestly only did any real work for about 1-2 weeks a year when they made him escort the Inspector General team around. Another guy who was waiting for retirement used to spend about 2 hours each morning in the bathroom reading the newspaper as he was taking a dump. No, I don't think he had a physical problem that required him to sit on the toilet that long. Reading newspapers at your desk was one of the few things that actually was frowned upon, so he found a way to kill 2 hours every day by going to the toilet and reading his paper there. Although I've never worked for a state government, from what I've heard it's pretty much the same story there. It can be almost impossible to fire government employees, so they just accept that some of the people are going to goof off most of the time. These people rarely get promoted beyond a certain level and at least where I worked, the only people who ever got into management were the people who actually did real work.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Oligonicella (659917)
            That's called tenure. It does not exist in the real world, only academia and government. I do believe the poster meant an actual business environment.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            These people rarely get promoted beyond a certain level and at least where I worked, the only people who ever got into management were the people who actually did real work.
            So when the ones doing the work got into management they immediately stopped doing any work aswell. Brilliant! That'll teach them! You see, the federal government has a responsibility to train people how not to do work. They are very efficient doing exactly just that.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kabocox (199019)
            It can be almost impossible to fire government employees, so they just accept that some of the people are going to goof off most of the time. These people rarely get promoted beyond a certain level and at least where I worked, the only people who ever got into management were the people who actually did real work.

            Well, you get far enough and make enough money and then you start to slow down and goof off. There is nothing written in stone that says that we have to work 8 hours a day for our whole lives. I th
      • by jd142 (129673)
        Internet is just telephone communications. No different. Treating it differently isn't wise. The employers are right though if the use gets out of hand.

        Except I can't get a virus that infects the entire network from my phone. If I browse out to a site that drops some piece of malware on my computer, then my computer can spread the infection to the entire network.

  • Quite right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bodger_uk (882864) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:08AM (#15961743)
    Aye, there's no way I'm working without my porn site access. Can't get a single thing done without it!

    That and all the chat channels, the streaming music videos, and all those flash sites.
  • ...there's always port 80.
  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:09AM (#15961751) Homepage Journal
    People were increasingly making use of anonymous proxies that couldn't be easily blocked by corporate firewalls, bringing in their own wireless broadband services for use with a personal laptop or with a work PC or accessing instant messaging via mobile phones and PDAs.
    BrowseAtWork.com [browseatwork.com] can fool some of them some of the time.

    "Organisations have valid concerns about security risks, but all you need is technology to secure the network perimiter properly," Arrigo said.
    Now this statement isn't true at all. Anyone who has ever worked in network security realizes what a complete nightmare this is and that "technology" is having a hell of a tough time keeping up. This article is completely dismissing security as the reason for blocked websites. Leaky browsers and constantly exploited new technologies have made security a serious priority. (I'm not even gonna go into the irony that these comments were made by Microsoft execs...)

    A company I had worked for recently had systematically blocked most popular online services over the past couple years. Myspace, hotmail, AIM, gmail... And I see the reason behind it considering we were in a sensative compartmented information facility that restricted external communication (not even allowed to have a cell phone). The company couldn't afford to have a large-scale information leak caused by viruses and/or non-secure communication.

    However, there were always ways around. I could still check my old college email through their website, which was not on the restricted list. There were endless forums that were also left unrestricted (they left slashdot alone, thank god). And there was recently an incident within the company recently where someone was fired for pornography. So the general frustration stemmed from the fact that people could still spend all day on forums and looking up porn, but I wasn't even allowed to check my gmail, update my myspace, or send an IM. However, I'm sure the company would've like to block every forum, porn site, and web-based email site if they could. It's just not something that is in any way possible.

    At any rate, I don't think most companies are blocking these sites because they are seen as unproductive, but rather for the risks that they pose.

    --
    "A man is asked if he is wise or not. He answers that he is otherwise" ~Mao Zedong
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I work for an agency with basically the same policy. The irony is that I can't check my gmail account at work, but gmail is actually MUCH more secure and better at filtering out viruses and spam than our internal email system. My work email box gets loaded with all sorts of spam every day (and displays images in HTML email by default, has all sorts of other holes, etc.), whereas my gmail account gets relatively little spam and has all sorts of security features we don't have.

      I suppose it makes our IT peop

    • re: I disagree (Score:5, Informative)

      by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:58AM (#15962137) Journal
      As a sysadmin myself, I was put in charge of our Internet security and web site filtering strategy.

      Initially, they implemented a Squid proxy that was set up so either you were granted "completely unrestricted" access, or "restricted" - which meant you could *only* visit web sites in an "allowed" list. The "unrestricted" access was, of course, originally only intended to be used for the sysadmin himself, and perhaps the owners of the company.

      What ended up happening over the years (before I ever worked for them) was "key" people in many different departments received "unrestricted" access, because they threw huge fits or became too big a drain on the admin's time - asking for access to slews of sites needed for puchasing, getting price quotes, etc.

      After looking at a number of options, I ended up using Dansguardian site filtering combined with Squid. The cost of software licensing or subscriptions was zero - making it MUCH easier to get approval for. (And if it didn't work out, nobody was going to "force" me to keep trying to use a broken solution, just because we spent $$$'s on it already.)

      Our goal was always to put the brakes on productivity losses (and even to prevent potential lawsuits stemming from someone viewing porn and another employee being offended at seeing said porn, or what-not). As has been proven time and time again, unless you completely deny someone Internet access, he/she can eventually find ways to get to sites you'd rather not have them using while at work. The idea is to implement a solution that stops as many "grave offenses" as possible, while appearing pretty much invisible to regular Inet users.

      I've found that a nice "side benefit" of doing this is the fact that you also tend to screen out some of the biggest contributors to loading spyware and other nasties on people's PCs. (Porn sites are a big offender in this area, for example.) But no, we didn't get into the site filtering as primarily a "computer security" issue at all.
      • Have you guys, or someone you know of, considered "sprinkling" communal machines with universal access around the office? Restrict work machines to a whitelist, put the communal machines on a separate subnet without access to company resources, ...
        • by tylernt (581794) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:51AM (#15962998)
          It's not hard. You don't even need a separate subnet if you can do VLANs. Set up a Linux box with tagged VLANs and hook it up to a managed switch. Using iptables, redirect port 80 on each VLAN to Squid on a different port (8081, 8082, etc). You can create ACLs in Squid based on "Proxy Port" so that people connecting to 8081 get one set of ACLs and people on 8082 get another, etc. Of course you can also set ACLs based on client IP/subnet, but setting up VLANs is cooler.

          If you want to add authentication to the mix, instead of transparent proxying you will need users to configure their browsers for your proxy on port 3128 or 8080 (you can still use the VLAN redirect thing for ports 8081 8082 etc). Use the msnt_auth plugin for Squid and now users can use their Windows domain login for web access. Only problem with msnt_auth is it only allows up to 12 chars for the password and some characters are not allowed, so users with wacky passwords may need to change them in order to get online.
      • After looking at a number of options, I ended up using Dansguardian site filtering combined with Squid. The cost of software licensing or subscriptions was zero - making it MUCH easier to get approval for.

        Note that DansGuardian is GPL but claims to be proprietary. From its copyright page [dansguardian.org]:

        DansGuardian 2 is:

        • not free for commercial use
        • licensed under the GPL

        In other words, if you truly believe those mutually exclusive claims, you have to install it at home for your own personal use, then redis

  • So phones too? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joshetc (955226)
    Do they think they should be able to talk on the phone all day too? While they are "working". I'm a "digital native" and still think its up to the employers. If the employees don't want to work without internet then they should get the boot, screw letting them quit. Their job is to work, not surf.
    • Do they think they should be able to talk on the phone all day too? While they are "working". I'm a "digital native" and still think its up to the employers. If the employees don't want to work without internet then they should get the boot, screw letting them quit. Their job is to work, not surf.

      The question is, how bad does the employment situation have to become before you start finding employees that will put up with that attitude and how quikly will you lose them to the competitor the moment the econom
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "I'm a "digital native" and still think its up to the employers. If the employees don't want to work without internet then they should get the boot, screw letting them quit. Their job is to work, not surf."

      Okay. But don't forget that people are human. Everybody has intellectual curiosities about something, and often those are related to the career they're involved in. I work with a bunch of artists. As a result, there's a lot of traffic headed towards CG forums. Sometimes there are informative articles
  • *Shrugs* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:10AM (#15961763) Homepage Journal
    1) Who cares. If they don't mind missing out on high-paying (but boring) jobs in the finance & defense sectors (amongst others) - areas that are traditionally paranoid about network access, then they don't have to.

    2) WTF from TFA:
    "taking a mobile phone away from a teenage girl is the same as child abuse."

    *shakes head* Child abuse?

    3) It's Anne Kirah, not Ann Kiera. I know she works at MS and has a ridiculous job title, but at least try to spell one of her names right.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hal2814 (725639)
      It is a silly title. At first I thought I read "Senior Design Apologist."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalirion (728907)
      *shakes head* Child abuse?

      Seems strange to me as well, but remember, times-are-changing. What 50 years ago was considered a light punishment would be considered child abuse today.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:12AM (#15961783) Journal
    Go waste somebody else's money. I don't want a bunch of slackers "working" for me, taking my money, and doing other things when they should be productive. I don't ask my people to work overtime becuase we schedule so that things get done in the alloted schedule. If you are so addicted to the internet that you can't put in 4 hours before lunch and 4 hours after lunch without access to all of it, you're not going to do what I need you to do.

    Oh, and you'd better not spend a bunch of time on your cell phone in my office either. Everybody has emergencies...nobody has them so often that I should know which ringtone your girlfriend is.

    Oh, and get off my lawn you damned whippersnappers.
    • by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:22AM (#15961860)
      Working as a programmer, the very nature of my work leads itself to periodic breaks where it doesn't hurt my productivity at all to get a chance to check my e-mail or browse /. quickly (honestly, I'm not just saying that).

      So normally I sit down with a goal, I think about how to go about implementing it, I bang out the code, and then I have a few minutes of downtime (sometimes more) while the damn thing compiles. Now most of the time I use this time to think about the next step of the problem, or to jot down notes of possible issues to take a look at, or to finally get around to answering e-mails about other issues in the code, etc. but if none of these are pressing then I don't feel guilty at all browsing around online for a few minutes. As I write this I'm waiting for my first build of the day to finish so I can get started.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        So normally I sit down with a goal, I think about how to go about implementing it, I bang out the code, and then I have a few minutes of downtime (sometimes more) while the damn thing compiles.

        When your boss finds out that this downtime could be better spent dividing the code into smaller files to reduce compile time, you're going to be fired.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          When your boss finds out that this downtime could be better spent dividing the code into smaller files to reduce compile time, you're going to be fired.

          Except the build system doesn't handle dependencies properly anymore, and the boss doesn't want anybody messing with it right now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
        Worked at a place where they monitored my internet usage really strictly. Got called up to the HR directors office, because I was, "On the internet every 15 minutes for a week".

        Same week I was running a long and really boring set of database reports. Bring up the report, change a few things, set up the distribution list, start the report, check slashdot while waiting for the report to finish, make sure the report ran correctly, put report in distribution queue, rinse, repeat. The reports all built on each o
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by l3v1 (787564)
      doing other things when they should be productive

      That means all your people are ones who can be "productive" for 2x4 hours continuously, starting from your mark ? You're labelled "funny", but still, in case you're serious, I'd really like to know what planet you're writing from.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Overzeetop (214511)
        Actually, I'm dead serious.

        That said, nobody (well, very few people) are 100% productive for four hours straight. Still, I don't provide magazine racks, several daily newspapers, or televisions in the office area. The internet can be a real time sink - it's like going into a well stocked library, it's very easy to get distracted and lose 30-40 minutes. I'm just as guilty (hell, I'm on /. at 9:30 am, right?). I happen to be out of the office this week, but it's not uncommon for me to chekc /. twice a day. M
  • Tough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PinternetGroper (595689) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:14AM (#15961792)
    "Bill Gates said years ago that if you worry about internet productivity, you're worrying about people stealing pens from your stationery cupboard... there are bigger things to worry about."
    Stealing pens doesn't knock the entire network down because Johnny and his "rights" just downloaded a virus-infected movie from his IM client...
  • YRO? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sparkhead (589134) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:14AM (#15961793)
    Why is this in YRO? You have no right to internet access of any kind while at work. Yes, it's common, and I believe any loss of time from a worker doing a little browsing or IMing (within limits) is more than made up for by the productivity gained from a happier worker, but it isn't a violation of your rights to not have access or to have limited access.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother&optonline,net> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:14AM (#15961797) Journal
    From the article: 'These kids are saying: forget it! I don't want to work with you. I don't want to work at a place where I can't be freely online during the day," said Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist Ann Kiera. She dubbed internet-wary employers "digital immigrants" and said the new wave of younger workers were "digital natives".'

    Amazing how you can pervert one science to make yourself sound smarter. Senior Design Anthropologist? What does she do? Dig through old Commodore PET and TRS-80 computers looking for clues to the outgrowth of the Internet?

  • by Evro (18923) <evandhoffman AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:15AM (#15961805) Homepage Journal
    In the US, the labor market is a buyer's market - there are more people who need work than employers willing to hire them. Because of this employers are able to impose annoying rules on their employees because they know their employees don't have anywhere else to go, since the employee's only recourse is to quit. If people would start wielding this power to their advantage it would benefit everyone.

    On the other hand, unfettered internet access is frequently not a good idea, especially for security reasons - people downloading malware, etc.
    • n the US, the labor market is a buyer's market - there are more people who need work than employers willing to hire them. Because of this employers are able to impose annoying rules on their employees because they know their employees don't have anywhere else to go, since the employee's only recourse is to quit. If people would start wielding this power to their advantage it would benefit everyone.


      There are other solutions as well:

      1) Develop a skill that is in high demand and you'll have many opportunities
    • >In the US, the labor market is a buyer's market

      i wouldn't say that... I'm confident in my skills and know that i could have a replacement job in a reasonable amount of time (4-6 months) if i decided to leave my current job (or lost my job due to downsizing etc) and i make sure i have enough money in savings where i can live off it for 6 months without a problem. The problem is that it is a buyers market for people who aren't very good at what they do and for people who are not able to relocate. Plus peo
  • Won't someone think of the children?!
  • by qazsedcft (911254) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:17AM (#15961821)
    First there was Chief Hacking Executive, now Senior Design Anthropologist? What next? Chief Chair-Throwing Gorilla? Oh wait...
  • by Klaidas (981300)
    Yet another announcement that gets to my "Well, DUH!" category.
    If I'm responsible for my company's server, why can't I read slashdot/forums/other, or maybe read bash.org when I'm bored?
    Not allowing employees (specially IT staff) to browse freely is like not allowing a secretary to write e-mails for her friends, you get the idea.
  • There are certain things that just waste time and companies can easily block. Many people I know don't always have easy internet access at home and blocking at work is so prevalent that they can't do things like check email, book flights even where they might only do that rarely. In such instances it's better to have acceptable use policies and control that limit the time spent and allows some light browsing. It's the same a taking personal calls at work. Are you allowed to have a brief chat to organise som
  • Ummm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkNemesis618 (908703) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:20AM (#15961839) Homepage
    Well isn't it the business's network? That means they should be able to do what they want with it. Whether completely open it up or block certain sites/ports. Like it or not, they have good reasons for it. Employees for one may be more likely to sit around browsing the web rather than doing the work they're assigned. Security threats from spyware/adware could increase. Yes, you can block those certain sites, but those sites tend to be less likely be accessible from a network with some kind of surf control. I work in a help desk and the spyware/adware problems went down tremendously once we implemented our surf control system. Yes there are some sites I wish I could go to, but its not that big of a deal to me...I can still get to slashdot. People have to grow up and realize that they're getting into the real world, and the real world does not revolve around any one person. I don't mean to offend anyone by saying that, but its how the world works fortunately or unfortunately. Besides, most companies will unblock a site if it's blocked but is needed for work.
    • Re:Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:04AM (#15962184) Homepage Journal
      "Employees for one may be more likely to sit around browsing the web rather than doing the work they're assigned."

      How about treating your employees like responsible adults instead of toddlers?

      You know, if you don't chain employees to their desks, they might get up and wander around all day, instead of working.
  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:20AM (#15961846)
    As a manager, I get peeved when deliverables are late but I see developers checking out some girl on Myspace. I have no problem with job-oriented surfing, but I want limits on what is accessed by my staff.

    I want my teams focused on the job at hand during the day when the entire staff is around to help each other out. Having people working outside normal hours, while admirable (kind of), may be unnecessary if more work and less surfing is done during the day.
    • "As a manager, I get peeved when deliverables are late but I see developers checking out some girl on Myspace."

      Have you considered perhaps that a desire to make developers work 9-5 and deprive them of web access in the office might, maybe, lead to you only hiring those who can't get work in companies with less oppressive policies?

      "I want my teams focused on the job at hand during the day when the entire staff is around to help each other out."

      And what do your teams want? The most productive developer I've e
    • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:35AM (#15961950)
      With a name like "ip_freely_2000" I kind of figure you're joking. However, I gotta say that that post sounds almost word for word like what my previous boss would have said on the issue.

      That strong-armed attitude is definitely very prevalent in the business world and is exactly the kind of thing that demoralizes employees.

      When I first started at that previous employer, I had a different boss... one who gave me room to do what needed doing. The result: I would regularly put in 60 to 80 hours per week (on salary). When the new boss (the one who I said sounded like your post) came in, he made it very clear that he was very much against comp time, telecommuting, and flex time. He wanted everyone there the same times... roughly for the reasons you mentioned. I went from 60 to 80 hours a week to watching that clock. I was in at 9:30 and out at 5:30 every day. If there was an emergency that required extra hours, my attitude and thus my performance were most definitely negatively affected.

      If management treats their employees like children and creates an environment of monitoring and restrictions, they will find that morale and productivity decrease over-all. That kind of environment will not attract creative, energetic people, it will drive them away. Even in non-creative jobs, a bit of online shopping or visits to the DMV site or aonline bank sites keep people from having to take time off (cough, cough, I'm sick today) to take care of personal tasks that can't be done off-hours.
    • I totally understand where you're coming from. I get really frustrated when I'm working hard on something and I see other people chatting, snacking, laughing, etc.

      However, are you sure that the deliverables are late because your guys are ogling chicks on myspace?

      My experience has been management will give you as much work as they can, up until projects start becoming late and affecting business. There will never be the perfect balance of just enough work to fill the 8 hour days of all your employees. S
  • I guess the catch is I got out of college in 1992. But at that time I would not consider a job where I didn't have always on internet connection. I wanted to have e-mail, access to net-news, and the ability to telnet into computers on campus where I still had accounts.

  • About a year ago, my company's internet filter started blocking Slashdot. That lasted all of a couple hours. I think some of my co-workers (who managed the company's directory services) complained. Unfortunately, the filter now blocks a couple of my favorite webcomics and Wikipedia (filtered because they are "Personal Pages"). I used to use an anonymizer to get around the filter, but they've blocked that too.
  • Sure, it's the company's network so they have the right to block whatever they want.

    And I have the right to work at another company that has a more open internet connection.

    I worked at one job where 6 months after I was hired they installed websense on the firewall. It took me and the other coders 45 min to get an anon proxy working. A week later they removed websense cause two thirds of the company was using proxies. Of course the net admins at this job weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer.

  • as a new crop of worker refuses to perform jobs because they can't have internet access, freely, there will be massive job openings for guys like me that are old enough (not old, 31) to respect an employer's rules and security, realizing there's a reason for restricting access to distractions like the internet. Oh, but if American workers refuse the job, you mean I'll have to swim to India to get it?
  • My work blocks all IP traffic except HTTP requests which are via a filtering firewall. While I can understand they don't want people looking at porn, it is extremely annoying that it blanket blocks entire sites and urls for no good reason. Perhaps one page out of possibly thousands runs afoul of the filter but the whole site gets blocked. Blogs for example. Archive.org being another even though it can be very useful. It even blocks links to things with no legitimate objectionable content of any kind. I was
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:39AM (#15961978) Homepage Journal
    The quote was taken out of context. Here is the full exchange.

    Employer: Of course we have Internet, but our firewall restricts access to "inappropriate" sites during working hours.

    Kids:Forget it! I don't want to work with you. I don't want to work at a place where I can't be freely online during the day. I'll just move back in with my parents and use their DSL.

    Parents: Sure, OK. What do you think would be a fair rent?

    Kids: Rent? Where are we suposed get the money to pay rent?

    [parents and employer exchange significant glances]

    Parents: Umm, honey, I don't know if they explained this in school. "Work" is the eight hours out of the day when you do things you'd rather not be doing so you can pay for things like food and rent.

    Employer [taken aback]: Eight hours?
  • by ats-tech (770430) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:41AM (#15961994) Homepage
    What I think is funny is that most people here are posting from work.
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@@@kc...rr...com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:44AM (#15962020) Homepage
    I have worked for two ends of the extreme, one company that was very restrictive with internet access and one that was wide open.

    Working in IT I found the overly restrictive company made repairs and troubleshooting increasingly difficult since many times I had to research a problem at home and then fix it at work. I remember one incident where we had a scsi backplane go bad on a server that was out of waranty, they had a couple of lower techs hammer against it for 3 days before passing it to me. I looked at the error logs, ran some diagnostics and looked up some error codes, had the problem isolated in 10 minutes, but ended up getting written up for "using the internet" on company time. I found that after a while I did the bare minimum required not be fired since half the time I was doing busy work at home and the real work at home anyway.

    The other company was a telco provider we had unrestricted access, it was great troubleshooting and repairs had an amazing turnaround time, but there were people that abused the priviledge. Eventually they weeded themselves out through poor performanace reviews or being called out for slacking off. Basically it comes down to what kind of employees you have, if they are responsible and take their job seriously internet access isnt a problem, its a matter of trust. If you dont trust your employees you either need better ones or perhaps need to find out what you may be doing that causes them to have no dedication to the job.
    • Been there also (Score:3, Informative)

      by trazom28 (134909)
      I worked for a company that went from wide open to proxy. As I was the most internet-experienced tech on the support team, anything that needed to be researched fell to me. Also, I browse with multiple sessions of a browser open. Always have. Next thing I know, I'm getting called into the IS Director's office and given a list of where I've been. I pointed out each url and explained exactly why I'd been there, all work related. Their reply, "well.. this looks like you're not working, so don't do this ag
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:46AM (#15962030) Journal
    Frank Arrigo said it wasn't only about using the net at work: employees are also becoming increasingly frustrated with companies that don't make it easy to access complete company network resources from home.
    This is another face of the same coin. Today's younger workers expect to be able to work from home in the evenings, just as they expect to be able to goof off during the workday. A lot of the younger salaried workers I deal with beleieve that they are paid to complete their work, period, and that it's up to them when/how it gets completed. I.e., it's quite alright to goof off all day if you dial in from home to get the work done in the evenings.

    I see this all the time at my company, and in the long run, it leads to burnt-out employees. We've had much more success with staff retention and productivity my asking that employees do not work from home (to the point of canceling almost all of our GotoMyPC accounts), do not stay late (with exceptions, of course). If employees want to get their work done, they've got to do it during the work day. If they don't, well, they face the same situations that most employees who fail to meet their objectives face...

    Work is work. As an employee (and this is the part of the legal definition according to the IRS, btw), your employer has the right to tell you how and when you do your job. If you want to work on your own schedule, you should be freelancing or consulting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kris (824)
      "If you want to work on your own schedule, you should be freelancing or consulting."

      Which is why I am doing consulting. And every once in a while I end up in a gig where I cannot connect my own notebook to the company internal network, or where I cannot contact my companies online support because outgoing openvpn and ssh are restricted, and where I cannot contact my company email because a stupid security policy is forcing me on webmail instead of dimap.

      Well, I am much less effective that way, but the price
  • Uh huh.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by robpoe (578975) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:10AM (#15962234)
    Digital Immigrant?

    Uh huh.

    I work in IT (as people probably know) consulting and service a 911 dispatch call center.

    The workstations are restricted from using the Internet, with the exception of a (very) few government and/or explicitly job related sites - through a proxy server (squid).

    Also, in the same government complex, 5 of the computers in the jail are also restricted in the same way (different site list, though).

    Why?

    Because having free and unrestricted access to the Internet only ends up with people downloading games/spyware/junk/explicit content. Intentionally or not. And when you rebuild a machine (that you're on-call for 24/7) in the middle of the night a few times, you'll also lobby the management to allow the restriction.

    That's right. I recommended and implemented the almost total Internet ban on those machines.

    And no, the computers do not run with Administrator users (they DO have to be Power Users, for the applications that are used) - but some of the nasty malware bypasses the Windows security models....

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:42AM (#15962444) Journal
    If unrestricted internet access from work is so important for you that you'll refuse a job, then you're most likely one of the people who shouldn't be allowed that unrestricted access.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If unrestricted internet access from work is so important for you that you'll refuse a job, then you're most likely one of the people who shouldn't be allowed that unrestricted access.

      I have and do work with people that would probably look elsewhere for employment if they were not given unrestricted internet access. This is for several reasons. Their jobs would be a lot harder without the internet as a research tool. It is a sign of a company that does not trust its employees, and that is a death sentenc

  • by VVrath (542962) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:45AM (#15962464)
    I'm an ICT teacher, and recently went to a conference where there was a presentation about so-called Digital Natives (today's kids) and Digital Immigrants (adults).

    Apparently, the fundamental difference between us old-fart teachers (I'm 25, by the way) and today's kids is that they have grown up surrounded by technology to such an extent that their methods of working and interacting with others are totally different to ours.

    For example, today's children are likely to be much better multi-taskers. They are used to an environment where the television is on, they are typing to friends using IM, chatting to other friends on the phone whilst simultaneously using Wikipedia to research that night's homework. That feeds back into today's classrom environments, because some kids can't cope without a busy, multi-tasking environment. Their idea of hell is to be sat in silence for an hour trying to revise, or working solidly on a piece of coursework without taking time-out to do something else every other minute.

    All in all it was an interesting presentation, but I felt the speaker's idea that the dividing line is purely age based was nonsense. I'd consider myself (and I' d imagine a lot of the /. crowd) a 'Digital Native', despite my age. Plus, for every kid with 'techno-joy', there will be another with 'techno-fear' (to paraphrase Mr. Izzard).
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:09AM (#15962646) Homepage
    Have communal machines conveniently, but visibly, sprinkled around the office. Let these communal machines have complete access to the internet but no access to company resources. Work machines would have a whitelist. The nice thing with this solution is that the responsible employee that is just going to spend a few minutes reading mail or news can do so, but the irresponsible employee who spends excessive amounts of time will be noticed by fellow employess. A publicly visible monitory also will reduce the porn site hits.
    • I saw that done years ago at a major Hollywood animation studio. The internal network, used for feature animation, was completely isolated from the outside. The external machines were set up as kiosks, and unconnected from anything else. But this was in 1998.

      By 2002, they weren't doing that any more. They'd switched from SGI to Windows, and Windows needs to talk to the mothership in Redmond.

  • by cyberbian (897119) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:01PM (#15963089) Journal

    Are better off without them.

    As an integrator, VAR, developer, security consultant, and chief cook and bottle washer for many firms, I advise my clientele with respect to their internet connectivity, and the expense and disbursement of the same. Given the strict liabilities of corporations, it is unfeasible to permit unrestricted access. Furthermore, I don't find it surprising that this discussion is coming from Redmond, which offers one of the most difficult Operating Systems on the market, in that it's increasingly difficult to secure Windows of any description and therefore it's probably just more cost effective to give free reign than it is attempt to limit the corporate liabilities presented by the deployment of M$ products.


    It should also be painfully obvious that internet access is not free, but must be paid for by the corporation, and unfettered access in ANY environment could prove unnecessarily costly. In these difficult economic times the onus is on upper management to ensure that the operation of the company is streamlined in such a way as to ensure both maximum productivity and profitability.


    In the Canada there are PIPEDA legislative restrictions in place that must be met with respect to user/customer privacy, and as such, in even a well considered M$ environment, it is not possible to grant unrestricted internet access and comply with the rules. Granted it may be possible to provide a properly cordoned internet access, but this should only be available to employees on their break times.


    As the by-line suggests, productivity is still the bottom line, and employees (digital natives or any other such ludicrous monicker) should not be the defining force behind internet access policy. It is widely held that a measured approach is preferable. One that can enable all stakeholders without potentially compromising any corporate/consumer data, and maintain operational efficiency to ensure that at the end of the month the company can still afford to honour the paycheques they pump out.
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:12PM (#15963192)
    we restrict Internet access, but in a smart way. All parts of the Internet are available before work, after work, during breaks, and during lunch. The firewall restricts access to many sites at other times. However, the firewall shuts off 15 minutes before any break starts and kicks in 15 minutes after the break is over. So employees know it's not allowed to waste time online during work hours, but they still have a sense of responsibility about it. If you're 15 minutes into work time and the connection craps out on certain sites, you know you've broken the rules. It isn't usually a problem.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:29PM (#15963334)
    I am a little surprised. I don't think I saw anyone admit that they recognize their own surfing habits cost them. It seems many recognize "other" people can have issues with it.

    Full unfettered access destroys my productivity at times. I follow a thought and boom an hour has gone by. I would definitely prefer to be subject to whitelisting/blacklisting. First things to block: Slashdot and digg of course.

    I know I would be doing a much better job if aimless surfing could be eliminated. But it is just so easy to click a link and read stuff, or comment on stories on slashdot. Our buisness communication depends heavily on our internal web so we all have contstant connectivity and at times external access can be handy, but I would be 100% in favor of restrictions.

    I really think productivity would go up quite a bit. Most of my friends all admit to surfing too much on the job (we are all techies).

    I am an info junky and always have been, even before getting Fidonet, I used to read tons of magazines about technology/science etc. In an environment with unfettered access is like a kid in a Candy store. Look: Shiny new Mazda roadster with retractable hardtop, planets 8, 9, 12 or 50?, New rumored Canon 400D DSLR, New ATI Radeons (damn I got sidetracked while writing this to read about new Radeon). You get the idea.

    So Yes please, bring on the filtering. Some of us just can't handle unlimited access to information.
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:29PM (#15963338) Homepage
    I used to work for a company that had pretty serious Internet filters, and they monitored the Internet access at the company in real-time. It was not unknown to get a call from the people monitoring security at the company if they noticed something funky going on your computer. They had good reason though...the former management team had been found in some serious ethics violations costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars and almost landed the execs in jail.

    I really had no problem with the "normal" filters they had on most of the time, but once in a while, they put the Uber-Super-Anal filters on that would restrict your access to basically read-only Internet. During these "outages" you couldn't go to any online shops, incl. tech bookstores like Bookpool.com (Amazon.com was blocked as well). Some tech resources were also restricted for some reason. The "super siikrit probations" were never announced in advance, nor were we told when they ended. You just noticed, all of a sudden, that half the Internet is gone. And then hours or days later, it was back.

    It was definitely one of the reasons why I quit that job.
  • Already addressed... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Randseed (132501) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @03:17PM (#15964732)
    I got sick of this crap at the hospital I work at. Basically, I get to spend hours upon hours on call as a physician with no meaningful Internet access, and no ability to get into my own systems to get real work and research done.

    My solution was to set up an Apache-SSL server on one of my machines, hook a CGI proxy software into it, and run an SSH server on a high port. That then allows me to browse the web and still get into my systems at work. Avoiding the stupidity of remote evesdropping is also alleviated by plugging my laptop into the network and faking to the Windows domain controller.

  • PCI CISP (Score:5, Informative)

    by icoer (960357) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @05:31PM (#15965717)
    I currently have all non-work related internet access shut off in my company. This is not because I wish to, or because management is paranoid or whatnot. It's becuase of the Payment Card Industry Cardholder Information Security Program. It states that if any company that accepts/processes/stores/handles credit card information HAS to lock down interent access. Failure to comply with this program could lead to losing your merchant account or fines of up to %$500,000 per instance of fraudulent credit card use. I would love to let my employee's check the news/e-mail/slashdot, but unless this regulation is modified or done away with completely, I can't afford to take the chance. For more info on this see www.visa.com/cisp. BTW, my company actually does enough credit card volume that we have to have security audits, even though we've never had an instance of fraud. Open internet access would fail me on the audits.

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