Is the internet reducing Employee Productivity?


Internet access for employees has become a conventional commodity. It provides instant access to information and a means of communication for employees and is also considered a necessary productivity tool for most employees. In addition, many of the productivity gains of the past decade can be accredited to the Internet. However, while the Internet offers email and other research tools, it also opens up more opportunities for employee distraction. As a result, the Internet is fueled by both productivity losses and larger problems, including hostile workplace proceedings. This is making the management of employees’ Internet access an HR issue rather than solely an IT problem. In addition, as change continues, HR professionals need to play a more informed and proactive role in managing employee Internet use in the workplace. 

As useful as the internet is for workplace productivity, the truth is that there are innumerable distractions while surfing the internet. Whether you are browsing social media, forums, or videos, it becomes all too easy to waste hours. Regrettably, these distractions are very tempting and some employees are now wasting precious time online. Since it is an essential tool in the workplace, it is important to keep employees productive when they are online. How do you find a balance between the interests of the company and employees, especially now that the Internet is a necessity?

  • Clear Internet Usage Policy

A well-developed and tactfully made internet use policy for your workplace can serve as a cornerstone for communicating the expectations of the use of technology at work. This can be easier to enforce if you have reliable and cooperative internet service providers (ISPs), such as Cox, that offer a wide range of packages suitable for all requirements. Cox plans and bundle offers may be tweaked by contacting their efficient customer services. Furthermore, they do not require any long-term contracts or termination fees which makes it easier to switch if you need to.  However, while this can help place restrictions organically, a written policy will leave less room for ambiguity. To create an acceptable use policy, and ensure that devices and the internet is appropriate, it will have to include:

  1. A brief but clear message
  2. A corrective action plan
  3. System in place to ensure the policy is consistently implemented
  4. A monitoring and filtering software

Internet Management Software

Many managers and employees form an interest in how monitoring usage of the internet can affect employee productivity. After all, if the company seems to be moving forward that means everyone gets through the milestones on time, and employees are working during the given time. Then why track internet activity? By implementing monitoring software, you can not only track and evaluate task progress but also improve the overall performance of the team. Businesses can develop robust Internet usage policies and track their implementation to take advantage of them. This is because the monitoring process improves compliance and thereby contributes to the achievement of business objectives.

Specialized internet management software is now available, that allows you to track the behavioral patterns of your staff, and identify any work inappropriate websites that require blocking. This can translate into higher productivity levels and eventually raise profits. Research has shown that when workers know that they are being monitored, they become more motivated and disciplined. The guilty pleasure of using Facebook or Instagram during working hours can be minimized or eliminated. 

That being said, some schools of thought raise concerns over the ethical issues this creates. 

Monitoring internet usage in the workplace raises an interesting dilemma for both employees and employers. It is common knowledge that employers have the legal right to analyze and track worker usage of resources being provided by the employer. However, it raises the issue of ensuring a balance between monitoring for work while maintaining the employee’s need for privacy. 

Ethical issues- Employer POV

The digital era, and the onslaught of the pandemic, have led to the creation of a decentralized workplace due to the widespread use of remote work technologies and policies. This is beneficial to the employer-employee relationship, as it allows employees to work more efficiently and be less rigid about schedules. The disadvantage of this phenomenon is the blurred line between work-related and personal activities. Where does the expectation of employee privacy come into play? Does the employee expect privacy at all? The laws have long allowed employers to lower their employees’ privacy expectations, in part because employees have very few bargaining positions and tend to be subject to arbitrary recruitment policies. The development of legal precedent in this area favors an employer’s right to monitor when this has been communicated to employees through internal policies, erasing a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

Furthermore, employers see it as a right. They are free to monitor the employees at work because they are paying them to use the resources responsibly. Additionally, they argue that an unproductive workforce will inadvertently affect the overall efficiency and revenue generation. 

Ethical issues – Employee POV

As opposed to the discussion above, monitoring employee communication can lower morale and create a sense of distrust. Employees may feel that they are being watched or that their privacy is being violated. Conversely, there are many legitimate reasons for employers to control communication with employees. This not only allows employers to control performance but also protects them from liability if an employee uses resources for illegal or unethical behavior. It can also be viewed as a way to ensure confidentiality or even assurance that the quality of tasks being performed is acceptable. 

Despite the varying point of view, and understandable concerns from both parties, there may be a solution that considers both interests. Companies can develop usage policies after discussing with employees and ensuring transparency throughout the process. Furthermore, compensations can be made in other ways to maintain employee morale. For example, break hours and other extra-curricular activities can also be introduced to keep your staff motivated. At the end of the day, the consequences of such policies are dependent on how tactfully they are implemented and your relationship with the employees. 

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