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Big Brother is watching

Last week ended for me with a heated discussion on the subject of just how much companies of all sizes are restricting email and Internet usage these days. A colleague claimed that because the Internet and email had become accepted—and necessary—business tools, companies of all sizes were moving away from policies that restrict their employees’ email and Internet usage. I believed just the opposite. And, as it always does, the war of supporting stats began.

Partly in an attempt to stanch the flood of stat-filled emails flooding my inbox, and partly because I wanted to confirm or disprove my viewpoint, I took the opportunity to do a little informal (very informal) field work this weekend. A friend of mine works for a nationally recognized travel website that set up a booth at an event. The booth had two purposes: support brand recognition and boost subscribers for the site’s quarterly newsletter. Perfect for my purposes, eh? So, I worked the booth all day on Sunday trying to sign up folks for this newsletter.

I’m pretty good at selling—especially when I’m selling something I believe in. And I believe that this newsletter has valuable content: travel tips, special offers, great resources for business travel—and I’m not even the target audience. In the process I also asked people about their Internet and email usage at work. I talked to approximately 100 people and 95 percent of them told me that the company they work for restricts their Internet usage and/or monitors their email.

These folks worked for big companies and small companies, they came from all over the country (even a few from Europe and Latin America), and they worked at all levels doing all kinds of things. But most of them gave me the same message: My company controls/monitors my Internet and email usage.

Now, my methodology—if you could even call it that—was hardly scientific, and I know every legitimate researcher will be jumping on this entry with all four feet. But I’ve got to admit, even I was shocked to hear person after person tell me that, in their company, Big Brother is alive and well.

So, let me hear it from you. Does your company control/monitor your Internet and email usage? And if so, how? ―Chris Zender, VP, creative services

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June 28, 2007 - Posted by | Chris Zender, Email Marketing, Web Content

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