Organizations today, whether starting up or long-lived, have mostly adapted to the dynamics of 21st century workplace culture. It’s a necessity, as the priorities of industries have changed to reflect the emergence of a global economy.
However, some things are harder to change than others. They remain as relics of a bygone era with different values from the industries of today. At times these practices and habits are mostly harmless, but the worst ones contradict everything that elevates the 21st century workplace. Each week, we’ll pick apart one of the five worst workplace culture relics, and detail why and how they should be phased out.
Implementing unnecessarily-strict rules for Internet usage
Workplaces have become modernized beyond the expectations of preceding generations. Breakthroughs progressed at such a rate that the professional applications of technologies became wider and more encompassing, particularly information and communications technologies. Members of an organization have so many tools available to access, modify, and transmit information necessary for operational activities. Most of these tools are reliant on modern networking technology; in other words, they function because of the World Wide Web a.k.a. the Internet.
Naturally, allowing workplaces to have Internet access creates the possibility that the technology will be used for non-work activities. That’s a given risk, and in no way is it to be taken lightly. Improper use of online access in the workplace can result in an untoward incident that can damage the organization’s internal morale or its good standing among clients.
But there has to be a redefinition of the boundaries of Internet use in the workplace. We say a redefinition because there are existing guidelines that no longer apply. The dynamics of any workplace today are much different from those of past generations, and content and media that used to be unacceptable are now normal. These media can even be tangent to the lives of professionals, both as members of the workforce and as part of the general populace.
There are still companies that penalize employees for viewing news websites, which are excellent sources of information on events that affect every aspect of people’s lives including work. Passage of industry-related laws, economic developments, weather and environmental conditions, and even trends and pop culture can dictate how professionals think, speak, decide, act, and pursue their business objectives on a daily basis.
Sources of self-learning are also unnecessarily restricted or prohibited. It’s a given that professionals must already be proficient at doing what their job description dictates. But what if they encounter a scenario that cannot be resolved in the way they traditionally do? The Internet, in particular video hosting websites, can provide access to either text-based or video tutorials for unique solutions to unusual problems, especially for skill-based jobs.
Excessively conservative workplaces also deny employees the chance to mentally re-energize through social media and sources of entertainment. Yes, these websites must not be accessed while actually doing work. However, with proper implementation of a system for viewing them only during specific break times, organizations can contribute to reducing burnout and mental fatigue among its members.
These restrictions and prohibitions must be reconsidered, especially if they are hindering an organization’s professionals from becoming more effective performers. And it’s about time: we’re about to end the second decade of the new millennium, after all.