Best practices for taming temptations of the web in the office

As a business tool, email and the Internet are invaluable. More and more emphasis is being placed on web marketing and enterprises are using the Internet as a tool to generate and perpetuate business. But with the Internet expanding everyday, the temptations to misuse it at work are growing as well. It can be difficult to know where to draw the line. Certainly, the amount of time spent on the Internet is an issue if it is not for the purposes of work. However, with some employees working longer hours, they may need to organise their personal lives at work. So how do you determine the different levels of Internet access across your workforce? And how do you decide what is “acceptable use” of the web during working hours? Productivity A huge concern for employers is the financial loss they are suffering due to the amount of time employees waste on the Internet. The simple fact is: if an employer is using the Internet instead of working, it’s costing the business money. If you have a workforce of 20 and pay your employees $10 per hour, if they waste even just one hour a day on the Internet, your wasted cost is $47,000 per year – not small change at all! Security With hackers becoming more and more cunning, hidden malware and viruses are rife. Malware can be embedded in websites and install itself onto the network when users browse infected pages. Downloads are a constant threat as they frequently contain damaging virus which not only reduce network performance but also pose a very potent risk to company information. Legal issues Time wasted confronting an employee about their inappropriate Internet use is one thing but the cost to defend against a lawsuit caused by an employee downloading copyrighted material is quite another matter. Email is a common feature of workplace sexual harassment cases and, under the Sex Discrimination Act, employers can be held liable for their employees’ actions. Any serious Internet abuse can also result in damage to the company reputation or brand. Network speed Furthermore, according to a UK study, visits to social networking sites during office hours consume up to 20 percent of corporate bandwidth.  Internet connections cost money and excessive non-work related traffic means paying for more bandwidth than you need. More importantly, however, visits to media sites such as YouTube slow the network down which in turn slows down the flow of business critical information which is vital for other employees to do their jobs. Solution Banning the Internet in the workplace is unrealistic. To do so would be to deprive employees of a valuable resource. It also doesn’t foster a relationship of trust between employer and employee and can damage morale. However, it makes sense to restrict sites responsible for drops in employee productivity. It was recently reported that 54% of U.S. companies have banned workers from using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace while on the job . What’s needed is an Internet restriction solution to help you create a filter that only allows access to authorized sites. Every company functions differently and will require their own individual Acceptable Use Policy based on how much internet access they want to allow their employees. Certainly, the corporate world needs to be aware of the Internet in the work place as a distraction and as a security threat but there needs to be a balance between the internet as an enemy and the internet as an essential business tool. About BrowseControl BrowseControl is an Internet management program that restricts inappropriate surfing and enforces Internet usage policies across your enterprise. BrowseControl can completely block the Internet, allow access to authorized web sites, block offensive sites, schedule access to the Internet during specific times of the day/week - all conveniently from a central console. It can also block applications. For more information about BrowseControl and CurrentWare, go to www.currentware.com

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