Posted on December 20, 2007
Filed Under Culture & Technology |
News.com posted an article by Eric J. Sinrod, a partner in the San Francisco office of law firm Duane Morris (no known relation to my good friend Philip Morris), in which the question of whether social networks can co-exist with the workplace is addressed.
Eric points out that, according to , 50 percent of businesses using Barracuda Web Filters are blocking social networking services like MySpace and Facebook. Most businesses, however, are more concerned about security (viruses, trojans, etc.) than they are about the fact that their employees are wasting time “poking” during business hours.
Eric suggests that there are entirely legitimate reasons for professionals to use social networks and notes that businesses embracing the Internet have fared far better than their luddite counterparts. I can’t take issue with either of Eric’s points but I think his article misses a larger problem.
According to an in Inc. Magazine:
In 2005, American workers spent the equivalent of 2.3 million years’ worth of 40-hour workweeks reading nonwork-related blogs while at work, according to a study by Advertising Age magazine. And that’s just blogs. Millions more work years were spent shopping online, checking eBay listings, cruising social networks, looking for vacation deals, Googling old flames, and, of course, ogling porn. A 2005 survey by America Online and Salary.com concluded that employers spend nearly $760 billion a year paying employees to goof off on the Web.
While I’m sure that foreign workers waste time on the Internet (primarily because they’ve been infected by American consumer culture), readers of The Drama 2.0 Show have probably picked up on the fact that I am bearish on the United States, both economically and culturally. The amount of time American workers waste on the Internet is not only disturbing because of its economic ramifications but because it is emblematic of our lazy, entertainment-driven lifestyle. The work ethic that made the United States an economic superpower has been fading and now that the Millennials and demanding their “work-life” balance, it will probably be eliminated altogether.
Of course, some will counter that employers can do more to make the workplace more enjoyable, and while that’s true to a certain extent, the reality is that sometimes work is just work. It’s great if you love your job and find it enjoyable, but we have a serious problem when our culture has conditioned us to seek entertainment and fun all the time and have legions of “adults” who can’t focus enough to simply get shit done - even when they’re being paid for it. Companies can implement Internet policies, monitor employee Internet usage and install web filters but at the end of the day, if your employees have an inherent desire to spend time reading worthless blogs (like this one), bidding on eBay, ogling naked pictures or flirting on MySpace, the fact that you may be able to block their access to these things doesn’t change the fact that your employees are lazy, useless excuses for human beings.
Unfortunately, most companies would rather not accept this. They’ll continue filtering Internet traffic while pretending that most of their employees are assets and not liabilities. And even more unfortunately, some will even lose money to another group of useless excuses for human beings: attorneys. After all, Eric J. Sinrod ends his News.com piece by noting that in dealing with this complex issue, “legal counsel likely should be consulted along the way too. While this imposes some costs on the front end, the profitable proof will be in the pudding. Any company built to last will recognize this is an investment in its future.”
I have different advice and mine won’t cost you $500 an hour. If the idea of paying money to unproductive American employees and then spending money on an attorney to look at the legal implications of the strategies you use to limit the productivity you lose due to their Internet usage seems like a losing proposition, do what I do: try to work with people overseas as much as possible. I not only guarantee that you’ll have an easier time finding motivated self-starters in places like South America and Eastern Europe (to help your business exploit gullible American consumers of course), but they’ll be a whole lot smarter than the average American too.Print This Post