Work Hard, Play a Little – Achieving the Network Balance

Recent research has shown the staggering success of social networking sites, with MySpace now having signed up 6.5m UK users and Facebook growing at a phenomenal rate of 500 per cent since the beginning of 2007 with a membership of 3.2m users in Britain. This level of popularity has led to companies, of all sizes throughout the country, having to reassess their Internet policies as well as deal with the inevitable effect on productivity.

Mike Hemes, country manager UK and Ireland at Packeteer, commented. “Whilst a majority of companies can quite justifiably block gambling and pornography sites, there is a definite grey area when it comes to social networking and video sharing offerings. Wanting a hard working and responsible workforce without having to resort to ‘big brother’ tactics is now an everyday headache for both IT and line managers, and it is certainly not a problem that is going to go away.”

It is not just the workforce whose levels of performance can drop with such sites, but that of the network itself. If IT managers are finding they are having network problems, one can usually place a pretty safe bet that it is a result of recreational applications. With the constant access to video and picture downloads, huge files start to take up a large percentage of company network space, slowing it down as a whole and stopping business critical applications from reaching their intended destination quickly, if at all.

Allowing employees to access Facebook and the like, without affecting the network would be the ideal solution, and there is technology that allows IT managers to do exactly this. By being able to identify the non-business critical applications flowing across the network, the IT department can then easily implement the company policy.

“Slowing down this recreational traffic means business critical applications can move quickly around the network without being held up by hundreds of downloads of video or music. This method of slowing non-essential traffic will also mean that whilst employees will still be able to access sites, bandwidth limitations will help avoid further network delays and poor productivity,” concluded Hemes.