Should IT install a web filter?

Managers often request that IT set up web filters to keep employees from wasting too much time online while at work. Here’s why you may want to put up a little resistance:

Letting users do some personal browsing at work can be good for their productivity.

That argument’s been made many times before, but now it has some more evidence in its favor thanks to a recent survey conducted by the National University of Singapore.

Researchers divided 98 participants into three control groups that performed different tasks for 10 minutes — one group was told to surf the web, members of another group could do whatever they wanted except go online, and the third group performed the menial task of bunching sticks into groups of five.

After the 10 minutes, participants were told to read a 2,000-word text and highlight the letter “A” every time it appeared. The folks who’d just finished browsing the Internet outperformed the other two groups.

In a survey taken afterward, that group also reported feeling less bored and mentally exhausted than the others.

Some experts say this study and other research, as well as anecdotal evidence, shows that employees are more productive when they have the opportunity to take short breaks throughout the day.

Does your company block websites, other than to shut out inappropriate content or prevent security threats? If so, do you think it’s helped or hurt productivity? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • I find the method of the research very interesting.
    It shows that after 10 minutes of work, the group of workers are bored and mentally exhausted.
    I would never hire a person who is mentally exhausted after 10 minutes of work.
    Managers should have a test for job candidates and let them work for 10 minutes.

    The research also forgets that internet filters are also used to block advertisements, trackers, adult sites, and social networks without blocking all entertaining or relaxing sites. We all accept an antivirus filter, it is now time to accept a URL filter. Do not forget that a filter is adjustable and can be configured to block onlt the bad stuff.