Mailbag: CIOs and IT Managers Sound Off About Banning Facebook At Work

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Chris,

Currently, we block access to Facebook.com on our network. I have to admit that I am not too sure sometimes if that is the proper call or not.

Banks tend to be somewhat old fashioned and our executive management doesn’t see the need for employees to access sites such as Facebook. In fact, very few employees even have Facebook accounts in their personal life. Therefore, this is not a huge problem for us. I have an account (obviously) and enjoy using it for personal and business type networking. As I use it more, I find more business uses of the site every time I jump on it. The groups are useful to me as I consistently view the conversations back and forth between users.

From an overall security standpoint, Facebook worries me a bit. From a loss of productivity standpoint, it also worries me. I don’t see Facebook being a productivity enhancer on our network because we are very old fashioned. I have kicked around ideas of implementing wikis for internal knowledge sharing, etc., but have nixed that idea for the same reason… It would not be used by our old fashioned towards technology employees.

Thanks,

Chris Rapp | Asst. VP/Director of Technology

Sovereign Bank

Chris,

We might as well ban the whole Internet… What’s the point?

We’re a small company of about 75, and so maybe we have the luxury of taking a more personal approach, but I’d much rather trust employees to get their work done while still enjoying the ability to check personal email, use social network applications, or shop on Amazon when they have a few free minutes – versus engaging our IT staff in trying to prevent them from doing so (even if only from the standpoint of written policy, and nothing more).

With that said, employees are all informed by written policy (which they must sign when they start their employment) of the business purpose of the equipment they are given to use – and the lack of any expectation of privacy around personal communication when using that equipment. Of course, there are still some “checks and balances,”and no one from IT would undertake the examination of anyone’s email or hard-drive without a request from a manager or executive of the company. I know of only a single case where a manager here specifically requested that we remove the IM client from the machine of one employee who was spending too much time chatting with friends outside of the workplace during the day. Otherwise, I think we’ve been fine working on trust…

Finally, as we continue to evolve or business and product offerings, I think it’s really important that we get feedback from our own employees on WHY and HOW “phenomena” like Facebook have such broad interest and mass appeal (even if Facebook fades in a year – and something else takes its place). A fair number of the management team here are over 40. I have a hundred or so professional contacts on Linked-In, but my nieces and nephews in High School and College probably have 8-10 times as many friends on Facebook. Wow – what’s going on there? If we just ban such things to our younger employees, how could we ever hope to understand it from their point of view – and what it might mean to those people destined to become our customers soon.

Best Regards,

Howie Spielman

Chief Technology Officer

Ecast, Inc.

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