From Solitaire and Minesweeper to Facebook and YouTube, computers and the internet have always been a source of time-wasting options that distract even the most diligent employees from their work. For this reason, many businesses have taken to using internet filtering options to limit employee internet usage and restrict access to common sources of distraction. It’s not hard to see why: research shows that among companies that don’t restrict internet activity, over half of their employees spend at least four hours per week consuming non-work-related web content on company time, equaling out to 26 full workdays per year.
Beyond keeping workers focused though, internet filtering has several benefits to offer companies, including strengthening network security and ensuring that one employee’s wasted time doesn’t become a company-wide problem. For anyone considering implementing internet filtering, here are a few of the ways it can help your business.
Keeping Employees Productive
The most obvious reason to invest in internet filtering is to keep employees away from non-work related websites that eat up employee’s time. This most often includes popular social media sites, video and audio streaming services, online dating sites, and generally illegal or unethical sources. The results are apparent: while nearly 60% of companies with no web restrictions spend four or more hours on non-work related websites, only 30% do so in companies that specifically restrict access to social media.
IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty once claimed that cybercrime was “…the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, [and] every company in the world.” That same year, cybercrimes resulted in $3 trillion in losses for businesses across the globe, and that number is expected to double by 2021. Whether you are part of a small business or a major corporation, cybersecurity should be a constant concern, and not just among the IT department. Multiple studies show that the largest cause of hacks and security breaches is simple human error, typically caused by less tech savvy workers clicking on unknown links, opening dubious attachments, or being tricked into providing confidential information. Web filtering can’t eliminate all potential cybersecurity threats, but it is a good first step to keep employees away from the shadier side of the internet and reduce the risk of being hacked.
Reducing Bandwidth Issues
While you obviously wouldn’t want employees goofing off watching movies, television, or other media content during the workday, their streaming habits can also have a detrimental effect on employees who are focused on their work. Streaming media services often require a lot of data traveling across a network in a short period of time, so if you have multiple employees watching YouTube or listening to music on Spotify, it can lead to bandwidth issues and sluggish internet speeds. Internet filtering addresses this problem by eliminating the biggest bandwidth hogs, ensuring that the internet is running smoothly for those using it for work-related purposes.
Protecting the Company From Liability
Official media streaming services like Netflix and Spotify are bad enough for their ability to sap employee productivity, but other sources have the added drawback of drawing legal ire. Pirated downloads of copyrighted materials (particularly movies, television, and music) is rampant, and anyone found guilty of downloading such content is potentially at risk for legal action. What an employee does on their own network is one thing, but if they are downloading pirated content on a company’s network, it makes the business potentially liable for any legal issues that come from it. As such, it is smart practice to prevent access to sites that might provide access to these illegal downloads.
Filtering the Web for Unfiltered Productivity
In the end, internet filtering is not a cure-all option for a company’s productivity or cybersecurity concerns, but it is a valuable tool that greatly contributes to these efforts. When utilized as part of a wider initiative to bolster productivity and digital safety, it has led to a positive impact on work quality and overall business success. In an “always connected” modern business world, completely eliminating internet access and its potential for distraction is nearly impossible, and many industries rely on that interconnectedness to survive. But reigning in its scope through internet filtering can help employees stay focused on their work while leaving open access to the parts of the internet that benefit your business.