Exetel, like every other company, constantly looks for ways of improving the services it offers by either reducing costs or adding value and therefore I constantly look at 'add on ' products and services that appear to have some sort of suitability for us to add to our offerings.
One of our first suppliers was/is Netcomm who have had their fair share of problems with their chosen option of providing modems and similar types of hardware to the Australian and NZ marketplaces - probably an even tougher daily challenge than providing communications services to those marketplaces. Various people within Exetel have been talking with Netcomm about an NZ developed product and service that they have begun to provide in Australia details of which can be found here:
In essence this service, costing around $A250 per month, provides a business with a wide range of network management tools from firewalls, through spam and virus control to filtering by employee as well as a very useful range of reports by work station user. To me, it looked like a very low cost way of providing very specific and very tight controls over internet usage and protection within a LAN from 5 to 100 users - or larger probably.
One key element of the 'sales pitch' struck a jarring note with me though I understand the reasonableness of it in general terms.
The 'jarring note' was the constant references to employee mis-use (and therefore expensive time wasting) of the internet resources provided as a necessary tool for them to perform their work by using them for personal messaging and other non-work related purposes. I'd previously read about estimates of such activities in, mainly US, press articles that cited studies showing that an average of one hour and fifteen minutes a day per employee was being wasted by the employee using their internet connection for personal use.
I don't doubt that there is a fair measure of truth in those statements and citings and, similarly, I didn't doubt the sincerity of the NZ Mako person making similar claims about organisations in NZ and Australia. There is undoubtedly a lot of 'work' time wasted by employees using the internet for personal activities. However, I also doubt that some sort of computer based invigilation is going to make much difference in improving the amount of time an employee spends on his/her work related tasks compared to the time he/she spends 'skiving off' on personal interests while at work.
I think that if an employee has both the time and need to use part of their 'working hours' to undertake personal activities then they will do that irrespective of what 'preventative measures' are taken - that has always been the case and will always be the case.
So, I wondered at the concept that, according to the nice, and very competent and truthful, Mako person and the sellers of similar services, so many employers would find this concept appealing to the point that it's THE major sales 'advantage' stressed in this instance and in previous 'pitches' for similar services.
My own view is that if your hiring policies are so bad, your work allocation processes so lax and your supervision so careless that you actually have such a problem then a 'service' isn't going to be much use to you as an employer - you have far more serious problems to address than this.
I have little doubt that Exetel employees make use of their work internet connections for personal use just as I'm sure they make and receive personal telephone calls or send and receive personal emails or take extended lunch hours etc, etc. I am certainly not condoning that usage/time mis-allocation (I personally pay for it in Exetel's case) but I think the hiring policies, work load allocations and general supervision of any sensibly operated company ensure it never is or becomes a problem from the highly efficient operation of the business processes.
Maybe its time I re-thought these attitudes?
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