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French Version

Net access in the workplace: 'Sinful-Six' & 'Time-Wasters'

The sites that need to be blocked totally at the workplace are being called the 'sinful six': gambling, adult, weapons, race, hate and bad taste sites.

JORDAN (Star) - I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Workers in Jordan, and the rest of the world for that matter, are 'abusing' their Internet access rights in the workplace.

Ask any IT manager or network administrator in a Jordan-based company that provides its employees with open Internet access, and he'll tell you that the majority of sites browsed, which register on the company server, are not work-related.

Also, the amount of email traffic and the addresses being served are, mostly, of personal nature.

So, upon reporting these findings to their managers, or owners of the business, they are usually asked to find a 'technical' solution that either involves blocking out any non work-related sites or just limiting browsing time and memory space allowed to each user. The sites that need to be blocked totally at the workplace are being called the 'sinful six': gambling, adult, weapons, race, hate and bad taste sites. Next to be blocked, or allowed for an hour or less a day, are the 'time-wasters: online shopping, sports sites, travel sites, stock trading.

In most cases, these measures are difficult to apply, and employees rebel against such acts of 'oppression' because, they claim they have a right to their privacy during work-breaks.

Although every employee deserves a break, and has the right to check his/her personal email or read some news during that break; many employees, especially young male users, are playing online (network) games with their peers over the 'net' throughout office hours. Also, there are a number of security threats involved. Workers may be downloading virus-infected files onto the company server; they may be logging into sites and filling out on-line forms or making online requests that compromise the security of the company server.

In general, any unauthorized access can spell trouble for the company's network. These complaints by local and regional business owners are supported by international statistics on this workplace phenomenon.

International Data Corporation (IDC) has found that between 30 to 40 percent of Internet surfing conducted during work hours is non-business related while a recent study, in the United States, shows that 60.7 percent of employees use the Web during business hours for personal reasons.

The easiest, and most drastic, solution is not to provide employees with Internet access at all. But it's unpractical, in today's business world. So, Intra-nets provide a solution. Employees will be limited to the confines of the tightest Intra-net possible, which would enable them to send and receive emails, but not in real-time, while being only able to browse the sites downloaded by the proxy server.

The other option is to allow Internet access but moderate it by installing one of the 'Internet Management Solutions', which are beginning to appear. These solutions carry out the required main tasks of monitoring your employees Internet behavior and reporting on it; allowing you easy blocking of undesirable sites, whether partial, full or time-based blocking; automatically sending out alerts to the employees if and when they abuse their Internet rights- by attempting to log onto undesirable sites, or exceeding their browsing time limits; and generally making sure that everyone in the organization knows the "do's" and "do not's" of Internet use while feeling that performance evaluation at work will be rated based on adherence to these policies.

Whichever solution to this problem companies choose, it's a fact of life today that Internet in the workplace is going to distract employees. But, more trust needs to be applied and a joint-effort cooperation between employers and employees to make any system work.

If employees act with responsibility, get their jobs done, and sometimes even put in over-time to make up for time wasted on the 'net' employers may, grudgingly, decide to leave things as they are.

If a happy worker is a productive one, let there be happiness in the workplace, and let there be Internet access.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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