Studies such as (Urbaczewski, A., & Jessup, L. M., 2002) suggest that controlling internet access (at least initially) is not beneficial for productivity, stating “evidence exists of a productivity vacuum occurring immediately following the installation of Internet access on worker desktops.”
My current employer is not restricting the Internet access in any way. While back, I decided to confront dozen of my nearest colleagues (note: this is a statistically insignificant number) and gather their opinions on this topic. Question asked: “How would you perceive the change in the Internet access policy towards restricting access to shopping, banking, trading, social networking and other sites?”
Interestingly, a clear majority was not opposed to Internet being controlled at work, saying it would not impact their overall productivity, nor it would be perceived as the invasion of privacy. One of the respondents said: “I have nothing to hide. I would only be concerned if our employer blocked sites we periodically use for work. After all, we are paid for our work, not for leisure browsing.”.
However, the opinion of my coworkers aligns more with the tendencies described by (LeFebvre, J., 2012) referring to “a survey of 620 US workers, where a significant majority of them do not consider employer’s use of web monitoring software an invasion of privacy”.
While I agree that we are not paid to do the online shopping, stock trading, and social chatting at work, companies should find the right balance, a way to allow employees to access certain not to work related services from work, without impacting the productivity. The movement of traditional brick-and-mortar services into an online space is underway ever since the introduction of Internet in the early 1990s. Fast-forward to 2017, and there are thriving businesses that do not require physical presence. According to (Sparks, D., 2017) Q4, 2016 revenue of Amazon.com was $43.7 billion and “Amazon was profitable for its seventh quarter in a row.”
For example, twenty years ago, my employer would not mind if I took a short break to buy a snack, or promptly visit a corner bank. Nor would they mind if I took a 5-minute break to chat with a colleague, even if it was a personal non-work related discussion. So, I am asking, how does it differ, from opening a browser to shop at Amazon.com, do the online banking or visiting a social network for a 5-minute chat?
I believe that employees are not the robots, our lives reach beyond our place of work.
I share the view, that it is up to each organization to create the Acceptable Internet Use Policy (AIUP) that addresses the specific business needs. According to (Kallman, E. A., & Grillo, J. P., 1998), the role of AIUP is to provide a general usage guideline, not to control users. The businesses should reserve the right to discourage the employees from surfing nonwork-related sites by informing all employees of their AIUP, but I do not think the policy necessarily needs to be enforced by installing the monitoring and Internet access restriction tools.
The survey of AIUP by (Siau, K., Nah, F. F., & Teng, L., 2002) concludes the following: “On one hand, AIUP should be as comprehensive as possible. On the other hand, AIUP should not be so restrictive that it gets in the way of productive exploration or suffocates employees. Finding a balancing point is the key.”.
Urbaczewski, A., & Jessup, L. M. (2002). Does electronic monitoring of employee internet usage work?. Communications of the ACM, 45(1), 80-83. [Accessed 8 Apr. 2017].
LeFebvre, J. (2012). Survey: Americans OK with Web Monitoring at Work. [online] GFI Blog. Available at: https://techtalk.gfi.com/survey-americans-ok-with-web-monitoring-at-work/ [Accessed 8 Apr. 2017].
Kallman, E. A., & Grillo, J. P. (1998). Ethical decision making and information technology: an introduction with cases. DIANE Publishing Company.
Siau, K., Nah, F. F., & Teng, L. (2002). ACCEPTABLE INTERNET USE POLICY. Communications Of The ACM, 45(1), 75-79.
Sparks, D. (2017). Amazon.com, Inc. Earnings: Profits March Higher…Again — The Motley Fool. [online] The Motley Fool. Available at: https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/02/03/amazoncom-inc-earnings-profits-march-higher.aspx [Accessed 8 Apr. 2017].