Sunday, 11 October 2009

Blocking web sites does not stop time wasters

Many companies and organisations cite the reason of reduced levels of productivity as a driver for blocking web sites, particularly social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the like.

It should be obvious to anyone who has given this more than a moments thought, that blocking access to certain web sites will not stop a time waster from wasting their time - they will simply waste their time in other ways.

As I have said before in previous articles, the issue of dealing with people spending too much time on social media sites during working hours should be dealt with by measuring their performance against set targets i.e. by measuring their performance indicators. Time wasting should NOT be dealt with by technological intervention. Using technology is a very blunt instrument which does not adequately deal with the problem.

There are many reasons why an individual may waste their time. They may be lacking in motivation, suffering from stress, a personal issue or any number of other reasons. What is important is to get to the bottom of the underlying problem, not simply tackle its after effects. Using technology to deal with a potential lack of motivation, does not deal with the lack of motivation.

The reason there is an appetite for blocking social media sites, is that many people simply do not understand it. I think I can safely predict than over the next few years, social media will be as ingrained into our collective technological consciousness as email and the Internet currently is.


  1. I agree the argument about 'time wasting' seems to be being used inappropriately by some organisations to block staff access to social media. However there are other reasons why social media sites get blocked, for example inappropriate content. In my organisation we have access to nearly all social media sites and SNSs, but Flickr is an exception for this reason. The issue you raised regarding a lack of understanding is the one to tackle first. Try to educate influential people in your organisation as to why it's important that staff do have access to social media. A social media strategy, policies and guidance should be developed alongside colleagues in HR and IT, to ensure issues around internet usage are dealt with properly. As Euan Semple has said "The biggest risk is not to get involved".

  2. I have already tackled some of the issues you mention in previous blogs: