Taming office workers hooked to the net

One advantage of connecting an office to the broadband Internet is that communication and research tasks would be less tedious. Gone are the days when there was only one computer machine connected to the Internet on dial-up service and workers had to follow the queue for their turn to use that machine.

DSL connection fees have been cheaper than before so offices have their way to avail of the service 24/7.

But with broadband connection comes the temptation to get hooked to the Internet like a drug. I, for one, cannot live without at least four hours of Internet connection, except in situations when it is impossible. Most of my office colleagues use the Internet to communicate with their friends and loved ones, in addition to office-oriented tasks. In other words, they are avid users of Friendster, YM, YouTube, and the like. Indeed, social media have permeated the four corners of the offices. They have blurred the line between virtual and physical offices.

Spending unnecessarily more time for the Internet is a concern, if not a problem. At least, a government agency has come out in the open revealing just that. Most of its employees use lunch break to play online games and connect with friends through Friendster and chatrooms. Which is permissible. But what cannot be condoned is the fact that they extend their Internet activities even to office hours. Officials have called the employees’ attention regarding this. They don’t want to impress on the public that government employees spend more time to the Internet than to public service.

I bet that there are much more government agencies in the same situation. And non-government offices are no exempted.

It’s not only that service is defeated. The employees’ home duties and face-to-face social functions are distracted as well.

What are the best ways to keep the hooked employees at bay? My unsolicited tips:

  • Develop and sustain the sense of service among employees. When in office, employees must devote most of their time for office tasks. They must only be allowed to use up to 30% of their working hours for personal concerns.
  • Disable client internet service before and after office hours or during the defined off-hours.
  • Regularize offline activities. Aside from staff meetings and the like, introduce ones that are fun for the employees, e.g., weekly or fortnightly jamming sessions and night-outs
  • Institutionalize daily to weekly deadlines (with a clearcut carrot-and-stick policy) so that staff will not procrastinate.
  • Develop a system wherein staff won’t suffer from “disconnected syndrome” (a situation where s/he feels inutile or incapable of working further when disconnected from the internet for various reasons). Some of the ways are:
    • Saving webpages to offline versions using Scrapbook
    • Asking the staff to maintain a to-do list of online and offline tasks
    • Calling for sessions (the more fun, the better) during offline situations.
  • Formulate and disseminate a policy indicating the above, making sure that the employees are consulted or leveled off first.

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