Site Blocking

As seen on Twitter this morning: “The gig is up! Company blocked gmail. I am officially job hunting…”

Why They Might

Now, why would a company block Gmail? If they have run thorough server stats and think staff are spending too much time with personal tasks instead of doing work, this might make sense. After all, none of us are paid–either via contract or hire–to work on our own stuff. The “big brother” method doesn’t give the complete picture, however.

What Else To Consider

There is probably a lot the bosses and IT staff have not considered. In order to use a lot of Google’s services (Documents, Calendar, Maps, Translation, and more) users usually log in. It’s the same login as Google’s email service. So, while Gmail may be open in the background, the reality is that employees are probably using many of the tools they need to do their jobs.

I haven’t used a physical calculator (Google search does math), a phone book (online yellow pages), a dictionary/thesaurus, or even a physical clock in over a decade. If my eyes never have to leave the screen and my fingers can keep hovering the keyboard and mouse for the tools I need, I’m working more efficiently and more ergonomically, too.

Why Not Block Personal Sites

Blocking any personal email just forces employees to use the phone or company email for personal correspondence that is sometimes necessary during the daytime. Yes, it’s true and valid, employees do need to take care of a few personal things during the day. (No, they can not take a day off from work to schedule a doctor’s appointment or chat for 15 minutes with their accountant during tax season.)

Employees, exempt or not, are legally allowed/required a 15-minute break for every four hours of work. If they need to use this time to check personal email beyond what a mobile device can do, isn’t it smarter to allow them this…rather than lose good workers to a company that doesn’t make blanket accusations about all because of the poor work quality of a few?

The Real Problem

It is like most things: companies need to deal with the real problems and the isolated cases of weak, incomplete work. Warn any employee who isn’t pulling his or her weight, but don’t punish the masses because of a few. Doing so creates distrust….which means you lose quality people. Do you want your best and brightest walking out due to this lack of trust?