6 ways to prevent employees from internet distraction

It’s no secret that employees are spending more and more time online for personal reasons while they’re in the office. Black Box Network Services — an enterprise communications and infrastructure company — estimates that companies could lose as much as $3.8 billion a month from the lack of productivity.

Of course, experts say that letting employees use the Internet at work is not always a bad thing, but unrestricted use of Facebook and YouTube can place a strain on network bandwidth, which can hurt the performance of critical business tasks. Your challenge is to establish a proper balance that allows some personal internet usage without a related drag on business efficiency. Since Black Box offered a sobering estimate of lost productivity, I asked them for tips on how to control Internet usage in the workplace. Here are five of their tips:

Accept that employees need to conduct some personal business at work. Don’t cut them off completely; let then access Web mail, for example, to give them a connection to their personal lives while at the office.
Use a tool that can measure and report internet bandwidth usage by domain. Establishing a benchmark allows you to fairly assess the situation and address the most frequented sites and the heaviest individual bandwidth users.
Take a granular approach that allows employees to use certain sites. But consider throttling down bandwidth so business processes are not affected. By slowing access to a site such as Facebook, employees can continue to use the site, but will tend to avoid the slow-loading page. They can then be subtly pushed back towards work-related tasks.
Beware of workarounds. If you take draconian measures and restrict all personal internet usage, employees might use proxy sites or other tricks which introduce malware and are difficult to manage or detect.
Frame your need to limit personal web use in terms of business performance. For example, describe how streaming movies at work is severely interrupting the CRM system, which will affect everyone at bonus time.
Consider tailoring access by department or individual. Marketing might need greater bandwidth for YouTube, for example.