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Trust in the Workplace: It All Comes Back to YouTube

Why doesn't anyone want to talk about their network usage policies? Is it because how you let your employees use the Internet, IM, and email reflects  to a greater or lesser degree  how you feel about them?I'm in the midst of doing research for an article about the kinds of policies IT managers establish regarding the usage of IM, email, various Web sites and other tools that can clog up, slow down, or otherwise impact a company's network.

What I am quickly learning is that while nearly every small and midsize company has a policy regarding network usage, very few managers want to talk about what that is.

Why? Could it be that the issue veers dangerously close to one of trust and control? We don't trust you to be able to be productive if you still have access to YouTube. We don't want you to be able to IM your friends during your workday because we think it'll be too distracting. Your personal email account should never be checked during the day and we'll block access to those email clients to ensure that you follow those rules.

I thought of this because I came across this article in the New York Times (registration required) about what determines a good workplace. The money quote: "A good workplace is one where management trusts the employees and where employees trust the management."

How to achieve that is the sixty thousand dollar question.

Are network usage policies a good place to start? Clearly, there are security issues, productivity issues, network overload issues, and even liability issues associated with these policies. Is there a happy medium in there somewhere?

New York Times writer Milton Moskowitz continues: "A not-so-surprising lesson is that it takes more than high pay and lavish benefits to make a work force happy. Employees tell us how important it is to work for a company whose culture embraces fairness, teamwork, education, fun and contributions to society.

Where does your company's policy fit into that culture? Have you managed to find a policy that makes management feel secure and workers feel trusted? Let us know.