IT must balance security policies against the needs of workers, the use of the Internet, and the adoption of mobile technologies that blur working and personal time.
The desire to boost employee productivity during a long-term recession
coupled with the preventive management of real and dangerous threats have
forced some companies to restrict, monitor and block specific Websites. Beyond
incendiary tactics like drive-by downloads, SQL-injection attacks and other
malware strategies employed by hackers and criminal organizations, the latest
viral YouTube video, a fantasy football draft and online shopping at work can
be bandwidth hogs that eat into network costs and sap productivity.
workers are taking on more work from home, working on the weekends and working
on vacations. What's a knowledge worker to do?
shows about four in 10 workers expect less oversight and more freedom of use on
the Web while on the job. Forty-one percent of 1,400 CIOs polled in a Robert
Half Technology survey said workers are willing to voice their unhappiness with
company security policies.
will always be employees who feel IT security policies are too
restrictive," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology,
in an Aug. 26 statement. "But in most situations, robust information
security measures are necessary to protect sensitive data and an organization's
network integrity from increasingly sophisticated threats."
the data also shows 29 percent of technology leaders don't hear a peep from
employees on the matter-and another 29 percent find it somewhat uncommon to
hear complaints. That is nearly 60 percent of employees who mostly or always
keep their mouths shut and surf the Web with complete freedom at home or on
you can't please everyone, the majority of workers seem to understand the
reasons for company security policies, even if a smaller group thinks the
practices are unfair.
is known is that companies do reap the benefits of Web use. While there are
some wasted hours from Web use, the adoption of communication technologies like
e-mail, enabling a mobile work force with smartphones and cell phone use for
work are all major contributing factors for people to accomplish their work,
communicate with team members and stay abreast of fast-changing projects.
2008 study from the Pew Research Center on Internet use found
expectations for productive workers to go up as these Web-enabling technologies
are being utilized. From the Pew report "Networked Workers":
"When asked how much, if at all, technologies such as the internet,
email, cell phones, and instant messaging have increased demands that they work
more hours, 46% of all Wired and Ready Workers say they feel those demands have
intensified, with 16% saying they have increased 'a lot.' Among those who work
in professional and managerial positions, 59% say these demands have increased,
as do 56% of those who work more than 40 hours per week."
looking to balance the human resource issues with security policies are advised
to listen to employees and see if there may be some alternative solutions that
would not threaten a company network. Robert Half Technology suggests, "If
you have a strong business case to relax a particular IT restriction, but your
IT security team thinks the risk is still too great, be ready to ask if there
is a suitable compromise."