I just happend to have read a very interesting article online by FinWeek Magazine, one of South Africa's financial magazine.
According to Ben Kelly, a FinWeek 31 August 2007, he was very disappointed to find that Facebook web site had been blocked by his organization on his arrival from an Annual Pilgrimage to the Gartner Symposium in Cape Town.
Kelly said that it was clear that Facebook is a popular service among employees. And some managers, clearly favouring the knee-jerk methodology of management, feel that this is impacting the productivity of their minions. So they call up the IT department and get them to block Facebook.
It has been reported that some of South Africa's Financial organization or companies, e.g. Banks, have decided to blog Facebook site claiming that it contributed to low productivity of its employees.
It is very important that before one embarks (especially management) on a step like this - consult with people invloved and share the implications of what they do have or could have on the organization's performance and reputation. But clearly it seems like some organizations do not regard communication as a strategic component as far as performance of their employees' concerned.
In response to Kelly's article, respondents regarded blockage of certain web site e.g MSN, My Space, You Tube, Facebook as slap in the face and also as an infringement of an individual's rights to leisure. Some have even suggested that it would be better if sites like these be blocked during working hours but remain unblocked during lunch time and they could be used by employees as a relaxation method.
Dirk (a respondent) also argued that sites like MSN, Facebook, My Space have a Marketing Potential, and that simply adding simple policies in addition to open time, can see your employees Facebook profiles act as direct marketing tools to bring your company more business. I do agree however that certain hours should be restricted. It will however blow over as the next big thing and things will eventually return to normal http://www.fin24.co.za/articles/default/display_article.aspx?ArticleId=1518-1522_2174786
If management within organizations decide to block sites like there and giving somewhat unjustifying reason that they give, one then should ask: To what extent would their decision to block such sites have on employees?
It cannot be argued that some employees within organizations spend much time on Facebook and other sites, but it is again not all employees who do such - therefore, it would be important to discuss some of the social issues that affect employees before going ahead and taking a decision that would have an enormous negative/positive impact of your employees's performance on the job.