It's 2014 and companies are still blocking websites

Last night I had a rather nice burger at the Spitalfields branch of The Breakfast Club. I say nice, it was one of the best burgers I've ever had. So well done them.

I was there with a few colleagues from my old workplace. We reminisced, we laughed, we cried. Good friends. Good food. Reasonable hangover this morning.

As we left we spotted some other diners walking through a door disguised as a fridge. It turns out there is also a bar/club that you can get into, as long as you know the secret code word. All fun stuff. This morning I looked on The Breakfast Club website to find out the secret word. You can find it for yourself here. And being a good friend, I sent the link over to my ex-colleagues.

Unfortunately, all they saw was something like this.

It appears that my old employers have introduced a new policy that restricts web access. A little investigation has confirmed that yes; all sorts of innocuous sites are now fire-walled.

If you read the text you will see that you are, in fact, allowed to access the site for a limited time. To my mind, this is even worse. There is a condescending tone that suggests an implicit agreement between the company and the employee that you are doing something wrong.  (Also, note the hilarious footer.)

Of course, I understand the need to prevent mistaken access to websites featuring knives or boy balls, but this random blocking of anything considered ‘Non Business Related’, is despicable. And a little embarrassing.

To me it displays a complete lack of trust in your employees' ability to manage their own time and workload. The assumption that restricting the internet will make them more productive is missing the wider issue. Smartphones are in every pocket and if an employee wants to kill a few minutes, or visit a website arbitrarily deemed ‘not relevant’, it’s easy to do. All censorship does is alienate staff, making them feel monitored and untrusted.

For a company that extols the virtues of a work/life balance and flexible working to its clients, this is more than a little disappointing. And feels very 1998.

I would suggest that if your staff are spending all day on the internet, it’s not the internet that’s the problem.

(As a side note, the Breakfast Club website is great, well done to all involved. Have a look at it, if you're allowed.)

Daniel New