Should Distracting Websites And Software Be Banned At The Office?

Should Distracting Websites And Software Be Banned At The Office?

Facebook, Twitter, IM and several other potential time-wasters are things that creep into our days whether we’re supposed to be working or not. Does that make them bad? Should they be banned from the office altogether, or is banning them a terrible idea?

Do you think it’s better to block distracting software and websites from work or allow them to be used? Do they have any useful purpose? Tell us what you think in the comments, and defend your position. If you’re so inclined, feel free to play devil’s advocate and argue the opposite, too. Let’s have a debate!


  • I have bee told a story of an employer who had cameras set up facing the front door of the toilet. the next day he would review the video. if you were toileting during paid hours, your pay got docked however many minutes you were there.

    I like this story because Im guilty of toileting only during paid time. never in my break. why pee for free when you can get paid? 340 days x 5 minutes @ 35c per minute($21h / 60 mins) = $595.

    while going to the toilet is a biological necessity – facebook and twitter are not. If they serve a vital purpose within business then obviously its required. However, I would imagine a majority of business do not require them for day to day operations. The secretary at a chiropractors office does not require facebook for example.

    An outright ban removes “the choice” from workers. So I would propose not to actually banning anything. A digital equivalent of my example story above should be implemented. Using works computers to access facebook during YOUR break time is fine, do it during PAID hours, your pay gets docked.

  • Pretty simple really. If I’m not allowed a little social-media time in the office I won’t allow a little work time outside work hours… Give, take etc.

  • I heard about an Australian mailfiltering program that does web filtering as well – Mailguard. What I like about that is that you can allot a certain amount of time to each user for social networking per day – they can use that time if they wish, at any time during the day within working ours (you can turn it off outside of working hours) but when you hit the limit, it blocks you. I think it’s a good compromise.

  • I think that it is almost addiction with sites like Facebook for some people. I think you go after the people that are the problem, don’t penalise everyone. At my work we (IT) used to give managers a monthly report of Internet use of their staff. It assisted them in identifying problems if they wanted to manage it. Me, I don’t trust my org not to use my browsing against me some time in the future, so I limit my personal use to breaks.

  • I prefer a different approach: Employees are judged based on what they accomplish rather than what they seem to do when they’re hanging around the office.

    If they’re very efficient, get all their work done and more, and they can do this while taking regular facebook breaks, why would I block them? They have to answer to their work whatever happens, and chances are the access will make them a happier employee.

    As far as I can tell, blocking websites is usually a diversionary tactic by lazy management – some figures are low, they see the team hanging around on facebook during work hours, and they correlate the two instead of talking to those who are actually struggling with their work. Blocking the sites for the whole office would be a bandaid and fix nothing.

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