Recently we came across an article posted on InfoWorld that sparked our interests. The post discussed the common perception that certain mobile applications and other social networking websites drastically cut into an employee’s productivity. On many occasions companies are relying solely on their IT departments to mitigate drops in productivity related mobile device use and other more entertaining proclivities.
The author of the blog, Bryan Katz, poses that instead of IT playing the role of “productivity czar” managers need to create controls that foster a gratitude rather than resentment. He poses leadership needs to invest in a more proactive and flexible approach instead of implementing tighter restrictions. As IT professionals who work with a wide range of industries this is something we can get behind for most any business. Your IT department does not need to be spending their time as production watchdogs, concentrating on devising ways they can limit an employee’s non-work related activities.
We suggest a collaborative course that has manager and IT departments working together to find a happy medium. By no means are we implying that you should have companywide free for all. Like Katz writes, managers want to create policies that focus on the individual’s ability to managing their time correctly. Working with IT instead of leaving them as the lone gatekeepers of network and personal device usage can make this happen. When you find an employee who is unable to balance work and personal life, then you may need to come up with added restrictions for that individual. Additional controls can include limited bandwidth for the less work directed activities or providing a protected network separate from the corporate network for streaming things like the big game.
A collaborative, positive approach that treats people like responsible adults demonstrates to employees that you trust them to balance work and play. In the end employees will respect you for that and work just as hard. IT departments should be focused on creating cost-effective resources and improved tools, not policing activities. IT departments are responsible for implementing whatever policies company leadership deem necessary, but they should not be the sole enforcer of such policy.