A co-worker recently pointed me to a very interesting blog post by Phil Johnson, president of PJA Advertising, who writes on Ad Age’s “Small Agency Diary” that his office recently renovated and changed from a closed-office environment to a a completely open floor plan with no private offices, with the goal of creating a truly collaborative work space.
With this, of course, came a bit of a new dilemma: With no doors and no high cubicle walls, everyone could suddenly see what everyone else was doing on the computer. Shoe shopping, twittering, gawking at Facebook photos — the works. So Phil came up with a very clear policy on employees’ Internet usage at work, and shared it with his employees.
The statement? I don’t care what you do on the Internet.
It may seem bold, but he explains his reasoning in this post. And I have to say, he has some great points.
In contrast, Helen A.S. Popkin stresses in a recent MSNBC post that “the Internet is not your BFF,” relating the recent story of a would-be Cisco employee who tweeted post-interview:
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
A Cisco employee caught wind of her tweet and responded on twitter with:
Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.
Pretty sure that ruined her chances at scoring the job.
There are two sides to Internet usage at work, and there are people on both sides of the camp. However, as Phil gets at in his blog post, employers are supposed to be encouraging employees to think in terms of technological innovation and work to mesh their offline and online lives for greater creativity — and productivity. Yet, many of these same employers hypocritically limit their employees’ Internet usage, instead of encouraging it and seeing its positive aspects.
The way I see it, it comes down to mutual respect. Give your employees the opportunity to blend their personal and work lives, and realize that although they may be shopping for that last-minute birthday gift at work, they are also likely responding to work e-mail at home and taking care of business matters on their off-hours. Accept and embrace the merging of these worlds — because with or without you, it is an inevitability.
What are your thoughts? Are you in the camp that promotes your employees’ inevitable Internet usage, and gets the benefits that come with that usage? Or are you in the camp that thinks personal Internet usage is strictly for off-business hours, and personal and business lives must be kept separate?
Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your views.Related