Workplace & culture

Should you ban Employees From Using the Internet for Personal Uses?

There are pros and cons of allowing employees to use the internet for personal use. Read our blog post to learn more!

The Invasion of the Internet in Workplaces

In the way that technology and the internet are intertwined into our lives today, it would seem impossible to separate employees from their gadgets and the internet. Everything has changed with the advent of the world wide web. From the way we socialize and communicate to the way we do things like shopping, the internet is now integral to all aspects of our lives. Even the workplace has evolved so much within the last decade. Before, it would be impossible to see employees at work who would be engaged in non-work activities during business hours. Now, companies allow their staff to use the internet even for personal and non-work related matters.

Employee browsing Facebook at her desk.

However, studies done on internet usage in the office has proven that employees could be wasting valuable work time online. It seems that up to 86% of employees open websites not related to their work every day, with social media being the most opened websites. Tumblr and Facebook lead the list, with Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat included.

Reasons cited for this lost work time include employees saying are not challenged enough or are just plain bored to perform better. Some also do it due to low wages and long work hours, while others are unsatisfied with their current jobs. It is when employees are unmotivated that their performance and output flunk. They are unfocused and the internet is the top distractor.

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What Employees are Most Targeted

Millennials or people born between 1982 and 2004 are top users of the internet, which would not come as a surprise since they grew up with internet and cell phones as part of their lives. They are more motivated to work for companies that allow access to the internet and social media compared to a higher-paying job with no such perks. Millennials use their devices at an average of 7.5 hours a day, while they waste work time for 2 hours a day. They are the least effective category of employees when it comes to work time wasted. Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, only waste 41 minutes a day and Gen Xers, born between 1965 and 1981, average at 1.6 hours a day. While employees categories (by generation) can have their own strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the company, wasting work time is a loss that needs to be addressed.

Some Companies Recognises the Benefits

While it may seem counterproductive to allow personal internet usage in the office, there are advantages to relaxing policies and allowing it. First, it is a clear way to boost employee morale. People want to enjoy their work. When employees are happy, their productivity increases, while low morale brings contempt and disloyalty. When the internet is used to benefit the company, it makes the business more competitive and allows it to be more efficient. Most employees network on social media, and you can take advantage of that. Their network is potential clients, so this can also be a free advertising for the business.

The internet is also a means of low-cost communication. Chat software can be used for office communication, although there should be another secure and separate way for communications that are sensitive and secret. Other than that, the internet is a cheap way to reach your employees anytime and anywhere they may be. A wealth of information is also readily available online. This can actually be the least time-consuming way to access whatever information is needed, and with just a few clicks, it’s there.

Additional learning and training are often needed for employees. The internet can be used for e-learning and distance learning. There are many online lessons and training that your workers can benefit from, without having them leave their workspace.

The internet also makes it easier for management to do surveillance and work supervision. CCTV feeds can be viewed even when you are not in the office, and there is much software that can allow you to track even the online activities of your staff.

In weighing the benefits and disadvantages of internet usage for your staff, you need to consider the nature and the demands of your business. While the internet can spark innovation and morale, it is also distracting and can waste company resources. Create a policy that would balance your need for the internet for work and place in protocols that can monitor and ensure that it is not used indiscriminately.


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