Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Are Your Employees Watching at Work?

As I personally lament Netflix’s unbundling of its online services and its price hikes, it occurs to me that the price increase could be good news for employers – at least those with employees who find it appropriate to watch TV shows and full length films on the job. A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive and Qumu revealed that 17% of those surveyed watch videos at work, consisting of, in order of the most viewed videos: news clips (25%), viral videos (15%), videos on social networking sites (12%), sports clips (11%), TV shows (9%), full length films (4%), and porn (3%).

The June 2011 study was conducted in part by Qumu, a business video platform provider advocating that online videos in workplaces are here to stay and that its services can assist employers in managing video content. The study examined how those surveyed thought mobile devices were being used by others in the workplace and how those surveyed actually used their devices. Interestingly, 61% of those surveyed want to work for employers who allow them to use whatever mobile device they want on the company network, but 74% of those surveyed believed their fellow workers would use mobile devices for unapproved, personal activities. The leading guesses for inappropriate usage included looking for other jobs on company time, visiting dating sites, and surfing porn, but the actual leading usage was watching videos on work time. The study also revealed entertaining insights into the lengths to which employees go in order to “sneak-a-peek” at their mobile devices in meetings. Among the sneak-a-peek methods reportedly used by employees were: hiding the device under the table or in folders/notebooks/papers, leaving the meeting under the pretense of going to the restroom, creating a distraction, or, my personal favorite, pretending to tie their shoes.

In addition to the obvious productivity downsides of an employee watching a full length TV show or feature film at work, online videos can, depending on the circumstances, impact the integrity and efficiency of the company’s network. The Harris-Qumu survey is yet another reminder of the many ways employees can use personal mobile devices and a company’s technology for both good and evil and why employers should consider carefully crafted workplace technology policies.

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