Thursday, February 5, 2009

Internet Access At Work

They’re really enforcing the Internet Use policy at my work now. It was always strongly enforced at least, it was in my department, but they’re really cracking down now. Other departments’ entire job functions seem to be keeping Zappos and Macy’s online divisions in business. I get to spend hours cleaning up computers infected from hours of web browsing and clearing out literally tens of thousands of cookies per machine as part of my job functionality and have as yet, aside from online shopping and reading gossip sites, to figure out where their job functionality is.

In light of the tough economic times and the fact that things are only going to get worse the HR department has decided to milk every last ounce of productivity they can from every employee in my division, and to ensure that that is happening they are looking at our internet hit reports. Like most businesses my internet access is linked to a user name and password. Every site I visit counts as a “hit” in the proxy. Most sites I visit count as numerous hits because of all the embedded crap. I have never visited a dating site at work in my life yet my proxy hit report has recorded, due to embedded link, that I’ve gone to some singles place several times.

The proxy hit report is fairly skewed. The original determinations for acceptable, neutral, and unacceptable were never changed from the factory settings by the folks who implemented it. That means whereas personal email is considered totally unacceptable chat sites and social networking are acceptable and neutral respectively. I don’t understand why it would be okay for me to spend all day on MySpace trolling for hotties yet checking my gmail is totally out of line.

The report isn’t an accurate representation of what each of us is actually doing on the world wide web. It only tracks hits, not time spent per page or overall time spent on the internet. My department understands this because I work in IT. Other departments, however, don’t understand that total related hits are not the same as total time spent surfing the web. The one hit someone gets for visiting a shopping site and spending 6 hours finding the perfect penny loafers actually looks better to those departments than the 100 hits I take in 10 minutes for surfing tech forums embedded with crap trying to find a solution to an issue. I never visit youtube at work (and rarely at home, actually) but I still get hits on my proxy report for it because it loads with some of the trashier tech forums.

When the reports were ran in December I was number two for hits in my division. I swore to myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. About 20% of my web visits were entirely non work related. There is no way I can justify trashy celebrity gossip sites as being mission critical, even if I say that I need to clear my mind in order to focus on tasks better by judging starlet fashion choices in my head. I knew I could do better than that so I cut out all the *bad* sites in January and was looking forward to my proxy report for the month.


I dropped my total hits by almost 3,000. Good Job? No. My hit count for the month? Moved me to FIRST place. The hell? The bloody freaking hell? I know what my co-workers are up to. There is no way I’m number one in hits, even if I do rely on Google University to help me with the majority of my work. Yet, there it is, in black and white. Even worse, I’m way, way higher than anyone else in total hits. Number two is 1,300 below me. To have made it out of the top three I would have to have 2,500 less hits. And to add insult to injury, after avoiding trash for an entire month, my unacceptable sites jumped up an additional 7%.

Hence: Arbitrary.

I shouldn’t be reading trashy gossip sites for any number of reasons period, and especially not at work. But I’m not going to stop checking some of my personal email, and I like to see my bank balance daily. I know I could totally cut these things out as well and only do them at home but they fall within acceptable time use of the internet policy, even if they are considered unacceptable by the proxy report. I also know that there is no way I’m ever going to drop out of the top three highest monthly hitters in my division because I rely on the internet for work related answers. Well, that, and I’m not spending 6 hours a day surfing the web on the secret unrecorded DSL line the, er, more seasoned folks are tapping into.

I couldn’t understand how some people could spend hours a day on WoW forums and reading Fark headlines while my two minute Netflix visits were tagging me as an internet inhaling time waster. It’s because I’m at least honest with my misuse of company resources, others have just rigged a way around it. Which: Great. There are plenty of obnoxious and crappy things I get to deal with daily and this is just another. I’m number one in internet hits on the proxy report yet in reality I’m probably number 33, and our division only has 20 people…

At my old job I was the proxy monitor and I won’t say I didn’t abuse it. Can anyone remember my old blog? And how much of that was posted directly from work? Now nothing blog related happens at my job. As a matter of fact most of what happens at my job is…job related. Go figure. In the meantime I’m trying to cut my proxy hits again for the month of February, just as a game to compete against myself. I want to see, with absolute work use only, how much of my hits will still come up as “unacceptable”. It isn’t easy, I do enjoy taking mini mind breaks during the day and just checking to see what is happening in the world but those need to stop now. I’m going to call for my bank balance daily and only visit one or two of my personal email accounts every other day.

If it ever comes down to me being counseled for my over-use of the internet it will be easy to justify the number of hits and the sites I visit. In a way, however, I wish my department would be fair before it ever came to that and crack down on the folks who are circumventing the system. But in the grand scheme of things, does it matter? It surely isn’t fair, and withdrawals from celeb gossip gave me the shakes last month, but should I waste energy on it? I guess I should be happy I have a job and focus on the positive; like evening things out. Maybe I will start letting the air out of the tires of the jackasses who are on the secret DSL all day so that they get to suffer a little everyday too. I’d like to see the HR policy on that.


sallyacious said...

Oooh. You could try an approach a relative of mine used to mess with people's heads. It doesn't work now, as most car gas tanks have anti-siphoning devices, but it was an awesome bit of mind fuckery at the time.

For about a month, they added a little bit of gas to the guy's tank every day. For long enough that he thought he was somehow suddenly getting amazing mileage. Once he got used to the new situation and began bragging about the change, they began removing a little gas from his tank every day.

You know what the result of that was.

As I said, I don't think you can, or probably should do the above. But imagine if you just let out a little air from one tire every day. Just a little. From one tire. And when they replaced that tire, moved to a different tire on the same car and did the same thing...

(It's nice to fantasize about, anyway. I don't expect you'd actually do it any more than I would.)

The CEO said...

Sorry I had to miss yesterday, I hope the exercise and weight loss are doing well.

It would be so easy to just use the super secret DSL line and cut your bad access numbers down. Why buck the system?

Eris said...

Sallyacious: Daydreams like that help my stress levels

CEO: Why would I do that? I'm not stooping to their level. Besides, it is probably good that I've cut back on trash gossip.