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For any company that has made it onto a "Best Companies to Work For" list* in 2010 that hires programmers, what restrictions on web usage do they have in place? Does that company view unrestricted internet access as a benefit to their employees even if they might use it for non-work related reasons?

If you can provide a link to back up this information, even better.

(* I don't want to promote any specific publication, but they are easy enough to find.)

My hypothesis is that a company that aspires to be one of the best needs to provide fairly unrestricted internet access and I'm trying to test it.

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My company bans Facebook and YouTube. I don't think it makes people work better. There should be an overall good moral in company. You can't force people to work, if they don't want to. People always find new way to not to work. –  Amir Rezaei Nov 19 '10 at 12:57
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My company is very lax about this, but I do tell new employees in my group the same thing every time: "Don't go anywhere that requires you to be 18, and don't download anything". 10 years later, no problems related to internet usage and productivity couldn't be better. –  Philip Regan Nov 19 '10 at 17:50
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I'm seeing an increasing trend of people surfing their smartphones to bypass the corporate network entirely. –  Chris Knight Nov 19 '10 at 23:17

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Until recently, I worked at such a company, they were rated best to work for something like the last 5 years in a row. I believe they blocked things that were considered illegal or NSFW, such as porn / pirated downloads, etc. Also games, I think. But Facebook and the like were actually not blocked. So it was comparatively open. It's a slightly unique situation for them, as a trading firm, because they're required to track all communication (including, I think, posts online made from their network) so it can be reported to the SEC if necessary.

I think there's another thing to be said here though, that if a company is really deserving of the title of "Best to Work For" then it will find that its employees don't really have the desire or boredom to waste time on Farmville all day. Even on my worst days at my old job, I never went on Facebook. The only non-work things I did were reading Daily WTF and other code blogs in the morning (and browsing SO). And even those are semi-work related.

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Good point about boredom, but I think everyone needs a break every once in a while, especially if you're working overtime. –  Greg Nov 19 '10 at 16:19

I believe my company made it to a Best list for 2010 -- we allow "limited" personal use with the exception of large amounts of streaming media, no social networking, and no restricted categories (adult, drugs, etc). For the most part, we do little to no investigation of user use unless they provide prior reason (such as getting a virus). It's pretty laid back.

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Where I work its pretty much the same. I guess its like a 'reasonable use' policy really. They don't monitor you or block anything. –  rmx Nov 19 '10 at 14:12

The ideal company would have one policy:

  1. Use your best judgement at all times.

Banning Facebook, YouTube etc. doesn't make anyone who has self restraint more productive, it just annoys them. Same goes with bandwidth limits and the such.

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Some folk don't have self restraint. Lowest common denominator wins. I'd be miffed if my coworker was on Facebook all day. The same arguamtn could apply to developer production access: I know I'd be careful but generally developers can't be trusted –  gbn Nov 19 '10 at 20:18
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If they aren't meeting their expected productivity goals because they're browsing all day, they should be reprimanded. IMO there's no reason to spoil it for everyone. –  Greg Nov 19 '10 at 22:28

My company falls on to that list. For us (developers at least, I can't speak for all departments), it's no p2p applications (I'm assuming that's mostly for bandwidth concerns) and no NSFW sites. Besides that it's open and it is left you to you/your manager to make sure your not just sitting on facebook all day. It's pretty nice.

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my old company where people were porking people in the office and had unrestricted internet was awesome. I was a recruiter so I need to be able to go any where on the web. Unrestricted internet also provides for more creativity. My current job has restricted and it does not help to ot have me find leads and and conduct internet research. Today people have smart phones and spend twice the time trying to get on there ????.com so if you restrict them it only fails...give everyone free acess and it will create a much better work place...this is 2011 not 1953

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