Regardless of the effect on employee productivity, streaming video stresses a corporate network a hundred times more than does e-mail or Web surfing alone. Streaming video can cause severe problems ranging from slow access to outsourced application services and enterprise e-mail to complete network failure. Bandwidth-intensive applications such as video conferencing and Webinars can have similarly detrimental effects on an organization's network.
To prevent these network bandwidth problems, there are four specific practices IT can adopt to better prepare and protect their organization:
Practice No. 1: Clearly delineate appropriate workplace Internet usage standards
Enterprises must have policies in place that both outline and even prohibit certain ways staff can utilize the Internet at work. These policies should be readily available for all employees to reference, and they must agree to abide by the guidelines before being allowed on the network. These guidelines should be as clear as possible and include such regulations as:
1. Information technologies are to be used solely for business purposes
2. Employees should not assume that any computer equipment or technologies such as e-mail and data are confidential or private
3. Designated representatives maintain the right to access computer systems and review any information
4. Anyone found in violation of the policy may be subject to disciplinary action-up to and including termination of employment
Practice No. 2: Establish regular communication channels with staff
Education about how corporate network usage can affect an organization is key to any successful Internet policy. Enterprise Internet resources are communal, and employees need to understand that their actions online will affect their colleagues' access to the network-and possibly their customers' experience as well.
To ensure that Internet policies are understood, clear communication practices are vital. Managers and IT need to have regular meeting times in which all employees gather together and the appropriate usage of workplace PCs is outlined. Management should openly discuss what employees should and should not be doing online, as well as the appropriate use of other company technologies. These meetings can also be used as a time to reinforce the Internet policy in place and discuss any changes or revisions. This is a good time to go over in detail some of the more crucial aspects of the policy and ensure that any questions are addressed.
Another critical communication channel is between IT and department directors. IT should work directly with the directors of various departments and help them to understand the online activity of their department. The benefit of this communication model is that directors get to better understand how their team is working during the day and IT learns the specific needs of a given department. Ultimately, this helps both groups estimate and allocate bandwidth by department or location, based on need.