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Salon carried a story the other day about a study saying that while a lot of companies try to limit how much their employees use the Internet for personal reasons while working, not only are they not succeeding but they may be missing the point” and that “installing filters to block access to Web sites and e-mail services could backfire by reducing job satisfaction and thus productivity.”

According to the story, “Many legitimate reasons may be at play, speculates R. Kelly Garrett, one of the study's authors and a communications professor at Ohio State University. For instance, people may use the Web at work to help balance job and life= responsibilities; with the personal matters taken care of from work, they can focus on the task at hand … The study didn't attempt to go much beyond trying to gauge the types of employees who use the Internet for personal reasons. Garrett said more research is needed to determine motives and measure effects on productivity. Those studies, researchers say, would then help companies figure out how best to control and accommodate personal use.”

KC's View:
Obviously there are limits, depending on what kind of job a person has.

But it seems to me that in 2008, companies expect much of their employees. They should want their employees to feel a sense of ownership about their jobs, to think of jobs as life choices, not just a paycheck. This, I think, is what distinguishes good and great employees from people who just fill chairs.

If this is the expectation, then companies should understand that there are not clear line of delineation between life and work, that one often will intrude on the other. In the best of circumstances, this will be good for the company and good for the life. Both will be enriched.

Besides, filters and blacklists suggest a lack of trust. I, for one, wouldn’t want to work for anyone who didn’t trust me. (Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.)