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Workplace Internet Bans Worry Generation Y
 

By Kathy Gurchiek  6/10/2008
 

A sizeable percentage of Generation Y—those 18- to 24-year-olds also known as the Digital Generation—would quit their job if an all-out ban on personal use of workplace technology were imposed, according to a recent survey of 1,000 office workers in the United Kingdom.

Among that age group, nearly 80 percent said they log on to social networking sites, 63 percent download music and 58 percent watch YouTube videos during office hours.

All that personal use can eat up an employer’s bandwidth, slowing down the computer system.

Downloading a single 30-minute TV show consumes more bandwidth than receiving 200 daily e-mails for a year, pointed out Mark Hutchinson, managing director of Telindus, which conducted the survey.

“Considering that one in five office workers admit to downloading TV programs at work, the pressure of personal Internet usage on the corporation network is phenomenal compared to what it was five years ago,” he said in a press release.

There is also the issue of productivity. Half of British human resource decision-makers have encountered or have had to discipline employees for wasting time on the Internet, according to the Internet security firm Clearswift, SHRM Online reported in March 2008.

However, with 39 percent of Generation Y workers indicating they would consider leaving their employer if a workplace ban of the Internet were instituted, office managers might want to consider other options, Hutchinson observed.

“An outright ban on personal Internet usage is clearly not the right approach to tackle a sluggish corporate network. However, the challenge is to achieve the right balance between allowing employees personal Internet time without jeopardizing the bandwidth required for business applications,” Hutchinson said.

A solution favored by nearly half of office workers surveyed would be to restrict personal Internet use to lunch or after-work hours.

A ban on personal Internet use in the workplace would prompt one in seven workers to buy a home computer, the survey found.

Telindus is a network solutions provider and a branch of Belgacom SA/NV, a telecommunications company located in Belgium.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at kgurchiek@shrm.org.

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