Friday, 28 September 2007

Page Blocked: Social Network

If you work in a corporate environment and browse the web then there is a chance you have encountered a message saying: Page Blocked.

I admit guilt. I sometimes surf the web during work hours and have seen Content Blocked a few times. I never really thought twice about it. I even thought I was the only one annoyed by it. Up until recently… when from a cubicle a few meters from mine a voice shouted:

"What! They have blocked Facebook AND MyPage."

Shortly followed by;

"Don’t they @#% trust me, it’s not like I don't already spend most of my time working."

It appeared that my colleague had been robbed of his Social Networking Tools. And was pretty annoyed too.

Apparently not everyone can use Facebook after all.

My colleague was truly upset. He was now deprived of his (webbased) Social Networking Tools. With which he maintained and expanded his social network, while working all over the world and not only during office hours, as he himself mentioned so eloquently. Isn´t it strange for a company, which values Integrity, to monitor their employees behaviour. Shouldn´t a company evaluate employees by their performance instead of monitoring their behaviour?

The event made me wonder. Why do companies block access to these Tools and to a lesser extent websites in general?

After browsing the web (at home!) I found lots of reasons that a company, who actively blocks content, provides. And funnily enough I also found a lot of information why other companies, for the same reasons, do not block content. I’ll present you with the two most common and likely most recognisable reasons why active blocking occurs. Additionally, I’ll present some facts that prove them wrong.

1. It reduces productivity of employees - Apparently, some companies forget their history lessons. When the email technology appeared it reduced the size of our world as we knew it and it is now an integral part of our corporate and private social life. Even tough in the early days companies objected to email when it was new, fearing that email made it too easy to inadvertently (or intentionally) leak proprietary information and cause a drop in productivity. Can you imagine work without email today? Would you be able to do the same amount of work without it.

2. It has no business value - Some companies already embrace new Networking technologies and use them to improve networking. Webbased Social Networking Tools are one of them. Other examples are Instant Messaging, Blogging (seen those quirky Corporate Blogs on hobbies and the latest best read?), Video conferencing, RSS feeds. The most extreme may well be Second Life, a MMORPG, were an impressive number of companies have embraced the opportunity to build their Network and gain a market advantage ($$$). All are examples of technologies which take advantage of new ways of communication and information transfer between social networks.

Can it be that one company uses these new Networking Tools to their competitive advantage, while another ignores them. No, even worse, fights against them? Does it all boil down to one thing.

"Don’t they @#% trust me."

Or are there other reasons these companies choose to stay behind?

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