The Internet Usage Policy for Agencies

Twittered by David Brain, this article from Phil Johnson, CEO of PJA, has some excellent lines in it when it relates to Internet usage in the workplace.

I don’t care what you do on the internet. (O.K. no porn, fundraising for terrorists, and online scams.) I’m not a babysitter, and we’re all responsible adults, for the most part. Plus, nothing will kill creative energy and a spirit of collaboration faster than distrust and paranoia. My message to all of my colleagues is this: Please don’t hide what you’re doing online. No one cares. In fact, if you’ve found some cool application or content, definitely share it.

My position is slightly different and would just add “deadlines permitting” – nothing annoys me more than knowing someone is on a deadline and seeing them Facebooking, publishing a blog post <ahem> or shopping. I am slightly more relaxed about checking Twitter or an RSS reader  because that is something you can dip in and out of – personally, I find I need some additional stimulation once I finish a task or a large portion of a task so I can sympathise more with that sort of activity. Online shopping on the other hand…

This topic also ties into two strongly held management convictions. One, we’ve done everything we can to assemble the most talented people we can find. We care intensely about the quality of their values, their ideas, and their work. As long as we honor our commitments to our clients and each other, how and when people get stuff done is their business.

I completely agree with this – clients pay the bills and come first. Always. Even above and before new business (however exciting new business is).

Second, we live in a world that is always on. People don’t shut off when they walk out the door. Their curiosity and life experiences all contribute to the success of the agency. We want to respect that spirit in the office as well.

Again, completely agree. I don’t stop thinking about my clients, my practice group, my colleagues or my pipeline just because I’m not in the office. If anything, my best ideas or my best thinking comes outside the office – watching mindless TV or on the treadmill.

But the best line comes in the comments section, from Bob Knorpp of the BeanCast marketing podcast and really underpins why I put so much effort and time into trying out, reading and being involved in social media:

“You are free to surf as you wish, but since it is still company time we want your insights. How is your buying experience on Amazon? What trends are you seeing among YouTube videos? What’s the funniest thing you saw online last week? We don’t want a list of what you’re doing. That’s your business. But we do want to amass a flow of data, insights and ideas to inspire our own content generation.”

One of the most powerful things an agency can offer its clients is perspective and fresh thinking – most of this comes from a well-rounded reading list and insatiable appetite for new ideas. We are at our best when we truly collaborate – both with our clients and with each other.

I’ve written before about the need for IT to take down the firewalls and let employees go where the organization’s stakeholders go and this is the same philosophy. As David said in his Twitter update:

We’re all adults so do waht [sic] you want on the net at work

What does your Internet policy look like?


4 Responses to The Internet Usage Policy for Agencies

  1. david brain says:

    Actually I agree with all your modifications, but a good post I thought.

  2. Arieh Singer says:

    Clearly Ed I would be remiss if I did not send this post around my office and to the teams I work with. Your posts are always insightful. I feel the same way as you’ve put it. Cheers!

  3. Bob Knorpp says:

    Thanks for the good word and the link to my show. 😉

    But seriously, this post from Mr. Johnson was pretty inspirational and led to all kinds of thinking on the subject. I summed it all up in follow-up post on my blog that the activity should not just be permitted, but encouraged. Permitted is the baseline of acceptance. But encouraging an activity inspires employees to find purpose in an activity. It opens their minds creatively to see ways they can benefit the company in nearly everything they do. It’s creates an entrepreneurial attitude where every activity can be a learning experience of value to the organization.

    Anyway, you can find the post here:

    Thanks again!

  4. markvcam says:

    internet usage policies are a good means to increase employee productivity and reduce cyberslacking.

    in this article the importance of having and internet usage policy is highlighted and also the benefits that companies get when this is implemented correctly.

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