Stop Blocking

There’s a new campaign aimed at companies who obstruct employee access to the Internet (via Neville Hobson).

This is timely, given the recent hoo-hah about Facebook … see Dennis Howlett for some more balanced analysis.

So the blocking thing is something that affects me every day. One example – my blog is my CV. When I’m going to a new customer, and they want to know a bit about me, I point them here. Unfortunately, I recently found that some businesses block * as a matter of course. That’s even more annoying when I’m trying to recommend that a customer reads some troubleshooting article on the Hursley on WMQ blog, for instance.

As a consultant, it is interesting to see how my different customers address the issue. The one that popped up today is that Dopplr is blocked under the category of “Personals and Dating”. Right. Clearly I’m trying to setup a date for next week, not share my travel plans.

After speaking at a conference last week, I was chatting to my colleague Karl on the way to the tube and we noted that we do have a huge degree of freedom in terms of our access to resources and information at IBM. That’s a good thing. It means we can share information and build relationships with one another, and others.

I’ll be following the Stop Blocking campaign with interest. I’m sure a lot of people will have contrary opinions, but I’d like to hope that a sense of responsibility can open up people’s access to useful resources on the Internet.

14 thoughts on “Stop Blocking”

  1. This is good news. I think blocking the Internet is like restricting what newspaper people bring to work or what passtimes they engage in.

    The IBM mentality is that you do what you want, keep within the business conduct guidelines (BCG) and above all else it doesn’t impact on your productivity, ie. too much of something is a bad thing but we will treat you like adults and trust you.

    Too many companies obviously don’t trust employees. They haven’t got the BCGs in place that set the boundaries. They probably don’t also see that looking outside their own organisation can have a positive effect. Sitting looking at one’s navel all day is never a good thing. Having said that IBM has just opened a meditation room in South Bank, again, providing more options not fewer.

    If organisations want to retain staff, encourage innovation, develop potential then an environment of trust is the place to start in my book.

    I certainly came away from the conference last week thinking I work for a progressive company.

  2. I don’t go along with the “newspaper” argument. I think a better analogy is personal phone calls — using the Internet for personal stuff from an office computer is after all using company resources (the machine itself, the bandwidth, your company time).

    Right, better get back to work…

  3. Mmm probably :o) Either way using this technology to run your life also means you don’t have to go home early or worry about something because your employer won’t let you make a call or send an email. Perhaps blogs aren’t that extreme but they do help us connect and I get a lot out of them, more than any formal education set-up.

  4. Andy, thanks for this. I think I’ll be blogging it too. Far too often, we’re prevented from actually doing our jobs properly through lack of trust on the part of people we work with and for. It can be extreme – the organisation my wife works for apparently bans RSS readers!

  5. Thanks for the Stop Blocking link Andy. This is also a big issue in libraries. I’m happy that my library is not one of these, but many do block popular social networking sites or restrict their patrons do chat or email.

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