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TUC calls for etiquette guidelines for social networking sites

Smoothwall : 30 August, 2007  (Technical Article)
Loss of productivity and large-scale prohibition of social networking sites in the workplace leads to call for guidelines of acceptability according to SmoothWALL
In recent weeks, social networking sites such as FaceBook and YouTube have faced a lot of bad press. Countless organisations have banned employees from surfing these sites because of the dramatic loss in productivity, with Kent County Council the latest to ban them. The TUC is now calling for guidelines to be put in place to promote social networking etiquette in an attempt to stop workers getting disciplined/sacked because of their online antics.

Tom Newton, product manager at Internet security specialist SmoothWall, wonders if employers are blinkered in their attitudes to social networking sites and whether they should try to embrace and co-exist with these new technologies instead.

'Productivity is key to the success of any business, but leaders need to weigh up the benefits of maintaining productivity if it jeopardises employee morale - an unhappy workforce will not go the extra mile to make your business successful. People are used to browsing web sites whenever they like, and anyone applying restrictive controls is going to appear draconian, even if it makes good business sense.

"The social networking phenomenon has caused a few problems with IT departments facing a hard time locking down new websites. Unfortunately, due to the pace of technology, it has proved almost impossible to pre-empt the next great 'timewaster' so blanket measures are seen as the best approach to prevent lost productivity and potential security breaches (i.e. malware, viruses, phishing).

"With a flexible Internet filter, however, businesses can get the best of both worlds by putting in place measures to stop employees browsing these sites during the working day, but then relaxing these policies during lunchtime and outside core business hours. This is a win-win for both the business and the employee, and I'm sure would have deadened the outcry from Kent's Council workers."
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