The Truth About Internet Monitoring and Content Filtering
Not too long ago, we were hired by “Local Valley Construction, Inc.”, their first standardization project was an update to their network. Because we were using Cisco Meraki equipment, we offered to put some web content filtering rules in place. Local Valley’s CEO, George decided against this step, fearing that he’d come off as a bit too authoritarian if he censored his employee’s access to the internet. Well, a few weeks later, employees started complaining about slow internet speeds. We investigated these claims and, sure enough, our logs revealed that several of Local Valley’s employees were spending their days watching videos on all of the major streaming networks. The understandably irritated George, issued a warning to all of the employees and hoped for the best. After a week had passed we checked the logs again and found that there was still one employee, Tim, who was spending 7+ hours a day watching Netflix. Much to the George’s chagrin, Tim was a manager who, evidently, thought that the rules applied to everyone but himself. A quick audit revealed that this manager’s workload was being handled by two assistant managers. Needless to say, George determined that Tim’s position was unnecessary, and he was let go the same day. In the end, the company saved themselves $70,000 a year in salary and overhead costs!
So What Was the Problem?
Prior to us switching Local Valley’s network over to Cisco Meraki equipment, Local Valley’s leadership had no way of telling how their employees were using the internet. Everyone could have been watching cat videos on YouTube all day behind the CEO’s back and (if the employees we were sneaky enough) he’d have no way of knowing. Because we were using the proper equipment, we had the power to monitor internet use within the network and spot unproductive activity as soon as it occurs. Had the CEO been on board from the beginning, we could have even stopped the problem at its source by blocking certain websites entirely, eliminating the need to pour over network logs.
Why Is This Important?
As a business owner, you can’t afford to have employees wasting time on the internet that is not relevant to their work. Not only does it slow down your business’s productivity, you’re essentially throwing money down the drain by paying someone for a 40-hour work week when they’re only actually working for half of that time, or even none of the time in the case of this particular manager. Even your truly dedicated employees are negatively affected by improper internet use. While they’re busy downloading important files, or carrying out work related research, slow internet speeds force them to wait, slowing down their work output.
Now, filtering employee internet access is not an all or nothing solution. There are a number of exceptions that we can take into account when setting up a businesses’ internal network. Like a castle laying down its drawbridge, you can choose who you let through your internet filtering barriers.
Laying Down the Drawbridge
Before setting up Local Valley Construction’s network to block certain websites, we worked with the leadership team to determine which employees or departments should or shouldn’t have access to different categories or particular pages. We also provided a digital form they could fill out to request sites in the future for the leadership team to review. Here are three examples typical of what we find after turning this on:
- Local Valley’s HR manager, let us know that she needed to access Facebook in order to screen potential employees during the interview process. She had a valid reason to visit social media websites as part of her job, so leadership approved her access.
- Not long after that, one of their construction site foreman requested access to YouTube, to gain access to videos that were used for safety training. Of course, he was granted special access as well.
- A few weeks later, one of Local Valley’s accountants asked us if he could access his favorite online message board where members share pictures of their cats dressed up in Halloween costumes. He claimed it helped calm him down after stressful business calls. His request was denied.
We’ve listed these examples to show that internet filtering within your company’s network can be made as strict or as flexible as you like. And because we’ll continue to work with your business long after we’ve set up your network, we can act as the go-between, granting special internet access on a case by case basis.
Offering a Better Solution
The story of Local Valley Construction should highlight the importance of working with consultants that understand the full potential of comprehensive network monitoring. After all, had Local Valley’s CEO stuck with their old internal network, he might still have a manager leeching off of the company’s payroll, along with countless hours of lost productivity among his staff.