To block or not to block Facebook at work, that is the question: Whether ‘tis Nobler to suffer the Blogs and Tweets of outrageous Facebook, or to take Arms against a social network… If you’re wondering why we get so much work done, it’s probably because we block Facebook at work.
Facebook, while a valuable social networking tool, can be an intense distraction.
It’s awfully easy to just browse there and lose yourself in your friends’ updates for an hour or three. Many businesses have taken to blocking Facebook at work. As well, you may want to block other sites like Youtube, Pandora, and Twitter.
Why Block Facebook At Work?
According to ComputerWorld, a study in 2009 showed that over half of businesses block Facebook at work.
The reported numbers can vary a great deal. Another report a year later says that just 39% were blocking Facebook. But the numbers are clear, companies have decided to block Facebook at work in an effort to increase productivity.
The article goes on to examine a few more points. It also suggests some reasons that deciding to block Facebook at work might be a poor choice.
Employees rarely have a legitimate business-related reason to use Facebook — short of being your “Social Media Guru”. Time spent there is productivity lost. Worse, your employees might discuss work in a way that could affect your business negatively.
But why stop there?
Sites like Youtube, Pandora, and Hulu offer streaming music and video. While your employees can probably keep working with music, these sites will slow your internet connection to a crawl.
Also consider blocking IM services like Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger.
The popular video-conferencing service Skype can be great for those meetings. But the rest of the time, even when you’re not actively using it, it drains bandwidth and can slow down the computers that it resides on.
Problems This Can Cause
Aside from the occasional uprising or revolt, there’s going to be some dissatisfaction when you block Facebook at work, or drop the hammer on YouTube.
Blocking a large array of sites, or using blanket keyword blocking can cause problems when you require your employees to do research on the Internet.
Typically, most firewalls have blocking rules that are sophisticated enough to block this content without overly affecting other sites. But if your business thrives on the Internet, you may not have the option to block Facebook at work.
Without your employees’ daily dose of videos of cats jumping into boxes, morale may suffer overall.
If you happen to run a cafe or other business that offers WiFi access to its visitors, note that blocking access to Facebook and other popular sites can work against you.
There are some ways to block sites internally and allow access on the Guest networks, but this typically requires more expensive networking hardware.
How To Actually Do It
There’s a few different techniques that can be applied, depending on the specific way in which you need to block sites.
If there’s just one individual who can’t control their cat-picture consumption, you can redirect the site in the Windows HOSTS file to something more appropriate, like a video of you scowling at them.
Alternately, if all of your employees’ tenuous grip on their self-control has caused them to waste countless hours Tweeting how much they dislike the way that they’re made to do work in exchange for monetary compensation, you may want to block these sites from your firewall.
A block applied on the firewall applies to all computers on your network(s). This is a bit more complicated and varies greatly depending on your networking hardware, so
Remember: if you offer internet access to your guests, the guest WiFi will need to be specifically excluded into the DMZ to allow access to blocked sites. If you block guest’s access to Facebook you’ll certainly receive some complaints or dislikes on that video of yourself.
So, Should I Actually Do It?
The decision to block Facebook at work isn’t one to be taken lightly, but ultimately the time spent by your employees should be time that produces value for you.
It’s ethically dubious to accept money for performing work, and then play about online. If your employees aren’t capable of controlling themselves and completing work, it might be up to you to police their time for them.
If you’re reading about how to block Facebook at work, you’re probably already in a situation where it’s warranted. Just weigh the consequences against how much more money you’ll make and the answer is clear.
Do you block Facebook at work? Thought about doing it? Or do you prefer to trust your employee’s are spending their time wisely? Share your experience!