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When did Internet content filtering get a bad rap?

Published on Dec 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm in Tips & Tricks.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.

A 2012 Salary.com survey of more than 3,000 workers found that 64 percent of employees surf websites for personal reasons every day while at work. Of that group, 50 percent admit to wasting at least two hours a week online. These are self-reported numbers and likely underestimated, if not grossly so.

Even in the face of such statistics, most of the business owners that we come across don’t practice internet content filtering. It’s much simpler and less expensive nowadays to monitor what employees do on the internet and to filter it, yet no one really does. Frankly, I can’t understand why not.

Business owners can argue that content filtering sets you up to look like an untrusting employer, or that if you hire the right people and if you manage your team and business correctly, then inappropriate internet usage shouldn’t be a problem.

For some types of organizations, such as those that have a strong corporate culture, I agree with this assessment, which is why we don’t do any internet content filtering at my business.

For other companies with office workers who may not be emotionally connected to the business, or who find that regular distractions away from the daily grind are enjoyable, well then, unfiltered and unchecked access to the Web may not be the best business practice.

Consider it this way. If you owned a delivery company and you found out that one of your drivers was spending an hour a day whittling away time in an arcade, you’d likely fire that employee. But for some reason, we’ve decided as a society that if you have a job, and at that job you have a computer, then that computer also comes with access to the entire internet.

[/vc_column_text][wproto_quote text=”You wouldn’t put a cable television on everyone’s desk, would you?”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]While content filtering isn’t a requirement or a good fit for every company, at a minimum, it’s a conversation that business owners and managers should have. It can’t hurt to call a meeting with human resources and all department heads to at least pose the question. Should we set up filters? At the very least, should we go ahead and start monitoring?

Outside of lost employee productivity, here are two more reasons to consider internet content filtering for your business.

1. Bandwidth

We assess networks of small and midsized Middle Tennessee businesses every day and often hear, “The internet is really slow,” or “We need more bandwidth; can you check into that?”

After a little digging, we find 18 different people streaming Pandora, Spotify or YouTube at any given time, and it becomes easy to understand why employee productivity is affected by a slow internet connection. While these sites may not innately seem like red flags, they truly do make a difference.

2. Security

Enacting a content filtering policy is one of the best things that you can do to enhance the safety of your network. Employees who visit websites that they shouldn’t, or are tricked into visiting sites they shouldn’t, open your network to a world of viruses.

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