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  How far should IT policies go at work in your opinion? 
 Date Written 
Dr. Peaceful Jan 21, 2009, 05:21am EST Report Abuse
Obviously computers and network in a work place is the property of the employer. They have the right to protect their property and ensure productivity of the employees. However, how far should the IT policies go, in your opinion? I like to hear from both those who are in the user side and those who work in the IT admin side.

For users, what's your experience on this? Do you like being watched and controlled? Can you say that you never surf the net in company time? ;) Do you think you will be more productive at work, without these policies? Do you think you will actually be less motivate to work because of these controls? Have you experienced any inconvenience for doing work because of restrictions on your computer usage? Have you ever been warned / disciplined because of IT policies, but you don't feel justified?

For IT admins, what's your experience on this? How productive do you think the users are? What are the most outrageous things you've seen users doing through the net during company time? What are the most ridiculous things users done to their computers which are company assets? How effective do you think these policies are on increasing employee productivity? Do you think there are negative impacts on employees due to these restrictions and monitoring activities? Have you witness anyone being disciplined / discharged because of their computer usage? Also, as an admin, can you honestly say that you have never violate any of these policies yourself? Or do you make yourself an exception, i.e. you do whatever you want? ;)

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Dr. Peaceful Jan 21, 2009, 06:22am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: How far should IT policies go at work in your opinion?
I am a user. ;) Though my work is computer related, I've never been a network/IT administrator myself.

Over the years, I had seen work computers being locked down where the user can not do any administrative work, e.g. software installation, driver / device management, defrag or other disk management, no access to registry and system folder, etc. To one extreme, I had seen users are not even have privilege to change their desktop wallpaper!

I had seen network activity being monitored. I had seen the usage of auto alert message to user email, once something is violated. So you know you're caught. ;) I had seen at school (not work though), screen monitoring was used, so the admin knows exact what everyone's doing in the computer lab, LOL. ;) I have no idea though, what exactly they used at work for monitoring network activities, may be just traffic / IP, but who knows.

Have I ever surf net during work? F**k yeah. ;) But, but I did complete all my work, on time! And a lot of those surfing are for work itself. Of course I don't like to be watched and be controlled, no one likes that. But what can you do, it's Work! I don't think a short internet break from work activity will do any harm to productivity, everyone needs a break. When works gets slow, I don't think everyone should just sit still and stare at the desktop with the unchangeable company wallpaper. LOL ;) But of course too much time spend on surfing is obviously no good.

As for computer privilege, I do need to be local admin to my work PC to do my work. But even one don't need to be local admin, a lot of time this can cause inconvenience to get work done, due to unexpected situations and unnecessary privilege restrictions. But that's when you keep bugging the IT guy, until he / she get irritated. ;) I don't use my work PC for anything other than work, that's why I build my own PCs, which I can f**k with. ;)

I understand work is work. And that's about it.

Rolebama Jan 21, 2009, 07:31am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: How far should IT policies go at work in your opinion?
I have been involved in work on both sides, as a user and as a network administrator. As a user, to find ways around being locked out of anything was always seen as a challenge, as was locking out admin so they couldn't log what I was doing. Then as an admin worker, to find ways of stopping people like me from changing anything. My favourite admin story was when I got involved in a project which required me to scan in a whole load of photos, and cut and paste them with Photoshop. I also required much more space on the server than usually allocated. I asked admin to sort this out for me. Next morning I turned up and found a scanner connected to my machine, but I could not get it to work,and couldn't find Photoshop. I called one of the 'techies' and he told me that the software for the scanner was on the machine to the left of mine, and Photoshop was installed in the machine on the right. I asked what use that was to me, and he replied that as they are not allowed to claim for overtime, they had had to do the job in a couple of minutes after normal work hours. OK, I thought, just connect the scanner to the machine on the left, and use both machines. I spent all day scanning photos and modifying them with Photoshop. Sorting them into folders relevant to pages. Next morning I turned up, no scanner, no Photoshop, no extra work space. I called the 'techies'. "We thought yoo only wanted the stuff for a day". I asked where they had got that idea from. "Nowhere, it just sort of 'came to us'".
When I started as Technical Manager the following year, guess who were the first to go.

Beavis Khan Jan 21, 2009, 08:16am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: How far should IT policies go at work in your opinion?
I've been on both sides, though am currently on the IT side of things. I think allowing workers (limited) time to surf the net, take care of personal business, etc is going to result in happier and more productive workers in the long run. If you need to pay a bill, order a birthday present, or just blow off some steam, I don't particularly care. I draw the line when your habits waste my time, or clog up my network. For instance, one of our dumber employees visited all sorts of dodgy sites while "researching" a rumor about Obama, and wouldn't ya know it, managed to infect his my computer with a nice load of malware. Not acceptable! If you want to be an idiot, please do so on your own computer.

From a user's perspective, my only rule is to follow the rules of the workplace. You're in no position to negotiate, and as someone intimately familiar with networks and monitoring systems, I know that with the right setup, your whole day can literally be played back at any time, even months down the road. That said, most every place I've worked has made allowances for reasonable personal use of the internet.

Re dismissals, part of what our company does is to place full time employees (employed by us) with third party companies. As such, they not only have to follow our usage policies, but the policies of the sites/companies where they are placed. In almost every case, the site-specific policy is far more strict than ours. We have fired several employees after they misused site computers (again, according to the site's particular policy). It sucks, but the policies are spelled out clear as day - and frankly, inability to follow specific instructions does not reflect very well on an employee anyway. These sites typically will escort the employee off the premises immediately when they find a violation (one guy played online poker for a whole 8 hour day...). Their purpose with our company is to serve our customer, and if they are no longer allowed to do that, there isn't much point in us continuing to employ them.

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

- H.L. Mencken
leastcmplicated Jan 21, 2009, 08:38am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: How far should IT policies go at work in your opinion?
I'm on the IT side --

I don't block much, p2p, torrent sites, streaming audio/video and thats about it. I make it a point when people get their computers, that they sign something that has some general rules. like if its a laptop they get they cant smoke around it or the case... I've gotten a couple lappys turned in that reeked even after i took it apart and gave it a good scrub. I can't reassign a laptop that reeks of cigarette smoke. The case I had to throw away. They can't install any programs that haven't been approved by IT. your normal stuff. I don't block any sites bc I know, and their boss knows if they aren't being productive then all I have to do is pull up their history (my users arent the most computer literate). My boss knows that checking personal emails and forums every now and then make for happier employees. But if I catch you with Limewire installed, oh, its on.

"Log off, that cookies**t makes me nervous" - Tony Soprano
"I don't know what to believe, I just show up and breathe anymore"

Reason Jan 21, 2009, 12:26pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: How far should IT policies go at work in your opinion?
I'm strictly a user. My work permits surfing but uses Websense to block "objectionable" sites, as well as Youtube (bandwidth issues) and we're not supposed to use any form of IM, including the built-in chat from gmail or anything similar. Oh, and we're not supposed to post on forums while we're at work, since the IP could be traced back to our corporation and it could be misconstrued as an official position.

I do over-the-phone tech support, and my company is one that is pretty sensible. Since we're not facing the client, jeans and a tshirt is perfectly acceptable work attire, and we can surf as long as we're not ignoring the client.

Websense bugs me, it's overly restrictive. It had blocked Revolver (online metal magazine) as a networking site (WTF?) as well as some web comics, and if a blog comes up in a google search I can't check it, which is annoying.

Some friends/coworkers and I had been using the gmail chat for a while, in fact apparently a LOT of employees were, and the random (?) screen grabs were picking up on them so we got another notice saying "don't do that." IM can be really helpful when you want some advice from a coworker as it's immediate, and when your customer is waiting, a quick reply can help keep them happy. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure my productivity went up when I stopped using it.

And I can definitely see why the policies are in place. I'm not a model employee but I'm pretty good, and a lot of my coworkers really seem to feel entitled to do whatever they want on the web. A guy on the other side of my cube wall browses, listens to, etc, pretty much does whatever he wants.

What I'm saying is that all that I've listed so far seems pretty reasonable. The one thing that bugs me is that my personal email is not personal if I access it while I'm at work. I guess why that is is because if I'm writing up some sexy email and IT reads it, it could offend them? I'm not quite sure why that is and it feels intrusive. The rest of the policies are just general common internet-sense, though.

Ultima Ratio Regum



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