Should Companies Block Access to Digital Tools?

6 thoughts on “Should Companies Block Access to Digital Tools?”

  1. Great article and links, thanks Luiz.

    I also find this very hypocritical for companies to ban social media sites like FB, Twitter, etc. More and more organization are working in a matrixed and global environment and have been emphasizing work/life integration (not balance) through smartphones or by asking their people to take calls and answer emails at any given time of the day. The message these companies send is ” we expect you to integrate your work in your personal life but we will not allow you to integrate your personal life to the workspace.” I find this not only hypocritical but also insulting to employees who, I think, see right through this.

    1. Hi Guillaume, thanks a lot for dropping by and for the great feedback comments! Appreciated. That’s just such an excellent point and one that we surely need to have addressed, because it doesn’t seem fair, indeed, that we see companies blocking the use of these social tools, and then we expect them to take calls rather late at night, or early morning, if they have got night shifts. Yes, there needs to be a work, life integration, but, I am with you that it should be one without that hypocritical attitude from companies thinking they are “entitled” to get everything from their employees without giving anything out in return, as if employees should be considered just “lucky” to have the job. Well, I don’t think things work that way any longer.

      In fact, plenty of companies out there are starting to use metaphors where they are starting to compare themselves with communities or even families. Well, I guess in that context we can forget about “entitlement” and such, because family members are not entitled to so and so without asking, doing or contributing anything in return. Everyone adds further up in equal terms, even the entity, in this case, the business.

      Really like your quote “we expect you to integrate your work in your personal life but we will not allow you to integrate your personal life to the workspace”, because, in a way, that’s the main, big problem we are just about to experience with BYOD that no-one seems to want to address: Yes, we allow you to buy your own smartphone or tablet with your own money and we encourage you to work with it and have work related stuff in it and everything, so you can become more flexible, but it’s got to have our security guidelines and policies in place. Really? Is that all that can be done on this very same area as well? I hope there is a whole lot more than what we can do in this area, because I can see how plenty of those knowledge workers will turn off away from BYOD and that work, life integration and somehow the main party losing out on this one is the business, specially, in today’s rather complex, networked, hyperconnected world!

      Thanks again for adding further up those wonderful comments!

  2. Luis, Dan Pontefract sums the whole question up very well when he says social is the new normal. Actually social has always been the norm –we always have been social creatures. Today’s technology simply allows us to do what comes naturally. Organizations which block this in the 21st century will be preventing people from working at their best.

    1. Hi Ara, many thanks for dropping by and for noticing the conversation with Dan through the blog posts. I am totally with you that we are, after all, social animals all along, what’s happened though is that over the course of the last 150 years, perhaps, we have been trying to industrialise, automatise the corporate workforce hiding that human component of doing things as social beings. And I am surely with you that blocking these social tools at work will mean only one thing: we are creating and fostering a digitally illiterate workforce that, if anything, is going to keep struggling tremendously with getting work done!

      I can certainly recommend highly Howard Rheinhold’s Net Smart wonderful book on the topic of how these new digital literacies will be impacting us as knowledge workers as well as human beings interacting in a physical world now going more digital than ever!

  3. As a consultant and founder of many startups I’ve came to the conclusion that I would indeed block some networks. Specifically just Facebook.

    People grossly overestimate their ability to multi-task. Generally, they’re not good at it.

    The constant alerts from Facebook, and the never ending stream of image memes with ironic quotes placed on them, the negativity that exists on there (outrage is the most viral emotion) and general mindless fodder are not supportive of the focus it takes to be excellent in a business environment.

    Again, people aren’t good at multi-tasking and the constant stream of interruptions don’t help.

    Sure people are social. Agreed. However, the psychological context of user interaction on Facebook is analogous to a party.

    Bringing the party to work probably not the best context for your business.

    1. Hi Jon , thanks a lot for adding further up into the conversation and for the wonderful constructive dissent. Greatly appreciated and rather refreshing! I can see your point as to why people out there may think of Facebook as a “party” place and therefore in a work context it may well be a no-go. However, I can also imagine that those folks with a “party” mind, as the weekend approaches, or as another Monday starts, shouldn’t probably be allowed to go past the “office” space, whatever that may well be, because they may make it contagious for others and before you know it, everyone is partying along! Gosh, that would never happened, would it? 😛

      No, seriously, I can see your point, and I am happy you exposed it over here as well, but I keep thinking that if their work would be meaningful, purposeful, recognised, participatory, open, non-political / bullying, well rewarded and paid for they wouldn’t need to multi-task in the first place and think about partying, but eventually more around contributing into their work to make an even bigger impact. I think that’s what’s more at stake over here, and not necessarily whether companies should block Facebook or not, or any other social networking tool. If folks bring up with them with party spirit at work, I would first try to figure out why is that happening and see how it could be addressed. Blocking the use of the social tools sounds like the easy way out, instead of tackling the bigger issue: employee disengagement. I suspect that’s much of a bigger problem that needs fixing than blocking this or that other digital tool, don’t you think?

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