Employees and Internet Usage – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Internet use in corporate America has evolved over the years. Once blocked from company computers, employers are now seeing benefits to their employees being able to access the web to complete their work. Research is primarily done online for projects and writing assignments. Gone are the days of consulting encyclopedia’s or trade journals, everything you need to succeed is found right on the internet.

It sounds like a win-win for a company, right? Unfortunately with the internet being a useful tool, it can also be a time sucking void. Not all employees have the self-control to stay off of the internet when they should be working. Surfing takes over and productivity is hindered by the employee who just wants to look up one more things. Some employees may use the ability to access the internet and complete personal tasks or just mindlessly surf. With all of the good that can come from internet use, there are bad things as well.

The Good

The Internet is a great place to find information fast. By equipping employees with the ability to have information at their fingertips, you are empowering them to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Imagine an employee preparing a press release or white paper for your business and they want to add some statistics or other information to add value to their work. They can find what they need in minutes and without stopping in at the library. Also, any research on competitors can be done quickly and easily by just going to their websites.

The Bad

Loss of productivity is the main reason that granting full access to the internet to your employees may not be the best idea. If their job function doesn’t require research or other reasons to be on the web, then restricting it may be in your best interests. It’s tempting for an employee to quickly browse for something but minutes can easily turn into hours. As a business owner, you know that time is money. The more time they spend on the internet, the more money is coming out of your pocket.

The Ugly

As if decreased productivity isn’t bad enough, there are so many sites on the internet that can be harmful to your computers. A virus an employee downloaded by accident from a site that they were visiting can compromise data and in some cases even effect your equipment. This can cause downtime and expensive service and that’s only if it’s detected right away. If malware or viruses are in your computers and you don’t know about it, you are putting yourself out there for identity theft, loss of data or financial information being stolen.

So how do you handle your internet usage at your company? There are a few ways to make sure the internet isn’t being abused. The first way is to restrict full access to anyone who doesn’t have a business need to be on the internet. The second approach is to employ a PC (or MAC) monitoring software. This way if the employee is losing productivity to surfing the internet for personal reasons, you can spot the behavior and address it before they waste too much time (and your money). Internet can be helpful or harmful to a business; however, by taking precautions, you can use it to your advantage.

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