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The Internet is an invaluable business resource, enabling on-the-spot research and exposure to a world of information and opinions. However, if not managed properly, Internet usage in the workplace can have devastating effects on a company’s bottom line. For that reason, many businesses are limiting employee access to social media websites, webmail sites and sites that deliver adult entertainment.

Be on the look out for some of the ways improper Internet usage can affect your business:

LOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY

The temptation to surf for personal reasons is common in the workplace. Statistics show that the hours of work time lost to personal Internet use are costing US businesses billions of dollars a year. This loss of productivity can equate to big losses for even the smallest of businesses. While most employers recognize the need to implement an effective company-wide Internet usage policy, how can you be sure that policy is working? Suitable monitoring tools and enforcement mechanisms can significantly reduce the time and money lost to inappropriate use of the Internet.

LEGAL LIABILITY

Business owners are obligated to protect their staff from inappropriate behavior of a racist, sexual or offensive nature. When employees have unfettered access to adult information in the workplace, it puts the business at risk. Businessweek.com estimates that 70% of Internet porn traffic occurs between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Your Internet usage policy should have a no-nonsense stance on adult content in the workplace, clearly outlining any disciplinary guidelines designed to prevent such activities. When employees are noncompliant with the policy, company leaders need to act swiftly to avoid legal exposure.

BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY

The Internet offers a variety of ways to disseminate confidential business information, often without an easy trace. Instant messaging, personal web-based email accounts, chat rooms and news groups are just a few of the ways employees can move sensitive company information beyond the office walls. When confidential information is passed into the hands of the competition, it can cause significant damage to a company’s reputation and revenue stream.

DAMAGE TO I.T. SYSTEMS

Protecting computers and software is a major priority for any business. Viruses introduced to a corporate network by less-than-reputable websites can lead to document and system damage. Malicious software that can infect computer systems are frequently spread through personal emails, fake security warnings and counterfeit websites bearing familiar logos.

INCREASED TRAFFIC

Often overlooked is the impact of heavy Internet usage for personal means on the network’s bandwidth. Systems can be severely bogged down by personal employee traffic and that can have a detrimental impact on productivity as well.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Toms Computer Support partners with several website monitoring applications and appliances that can either be installed on premise or hosted in the cloud. By adding any of these applications/appliances to your network infrastructure you can be sure that your network is safe to used in the way that you would expect. Of course surfing Facebook for 5 minutes in a day is perfectly fine by some company standards, but 5 minutes each day over the course of a week really does add up. Think about how your employees utilize your internet, then give us a call to make a productivity tool rather than the cause of productity loss.