The Workforce is Changing – Shouldn’t IT Policy?

November 8, 2010 - 8 Comments

Today, Cisco released the second set of results from its Connected World Report, a global study that looks at employee lifestyles, the importance users place on anytime, anywhere access and how important mobility and flexibility are to workers.  A key take-away from the results is that mobility is definitely going mainstream, and IT policy makers should be prepared to accomodate it. Through additional analysis of the survey results, Cisco has discovered more interesting findings about the relationship between corporate IT policies and users; chiefly, as workers become more mobile and distributed, there is a major disconnect between IT policy and worker behavior.

It may not seem too shocking that more than two-thirds of workers believe their company’s IT policies could be improved, but  it may surprise you that 41% (two in five) of respondents admitted to actually breaking those policies to meet their needs. Why do workers “go rogue”?  Are they unaware of the policies their organizations put in place or are the policies simply not enforced by IT?

The survey, which included 2,600 workers and IT professionals in 13 countries, revealed that while 82% of companies do have IT policies, about one in four employees, or 24% don’t realize they exist. An additional 23% claimed their company did not have a policy on acceptable mobile device usage. For those employees who were aware of an IT policy in their organization, 35% said their IT department does not provide ample rationale for their policy.

Clearly, the confusion surrounding IT policies – whether or not they exist and why they are there – is contributing to worker apathy about – and in many cases, a lack of adherence to – these policies. When combined with an increased desire for workplace flexibility and mobility, it’s no wonder that users and IT are experiencing a serious disconnect.

Additional findings about IT policies and how users view them included the following:

  • Two of every three employees (64 percent) believe their IT teams and companies should allow social media use during work hours with work devices, citing work-life balance as a key reason, particularly because many of them can work in a mobile, distributed fashion and put in longer hours as a result.
  • Use of personal devices like iPads and iPhones is also restricted to some degree. Globally, almost one in five (18 percent) employees  is not allowed to use their iPods at work, and almost one in five (18 percent) is restricted from using personal devices like employee-owned laptops or phones.
  • The majority of employees (66 percent) believe they should be able to connect freely with any device – personal or company-issued – and access the applications and information that they need around the clock.
  • The use of video is on the rise as a form of consumer and enterprise communication. Globally, more than two-thirds of IT professionals (68 percent) feel the importance of video communications to their company will increase in the future.

These additional Cisco Connected World Report findings clearly demonstrate that employees are willing to break the rules to achieve greater work-life balance, more flexibility in the workplace and improved mobility.  As organizations struggle to accommodate these employee needs while keeping their networks safe and secure, it’s clear that IT departments and users must work together to create sensible policies that all users can adhere to.

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  1. Small businesses sem a bit more relaxed than mega corp’s on all this.

  2. Well,regarding Social media, yes in fact theres alot of people that instead of “working” they are in their online social time. I think they should had time for that in their work breaks, but most of the companies dont allow it at work that’s acceptable but…. they also dont allow it even on the “breaks”…

  3. as much as social media use is a plus during work hours. i find people tend to ignore their surroundings when using their phones and computers for social media. most people will just use for personal use

  4. The business’s responsibilities and liabilities cannot be ‘overlooked’ for the convenience of the employee, SO, responsible and effective IT policies and procedures must remain in place. Also, the goal of using IT in the first place is to better enable the employee [ to produce for the company ]. IF an organization endeavors to allow employee use of company IT assets for personal use, including internet access, and\or use of personal IT devices while on company time or premises, “sensible policies” are certainly achievable. Separate, non-production devices with no internal network access, for instance, are effective policies for internet access. The problem that usually continues, however, is that employees eventually start ignoring those policies and taking advantage of, and abusing, the situation. So then their ‘convenience’ privileges have to be curtailed, which usually causes rebellion by the employee, then more problems for the company. I have worked in, and for, both small and large companies, and I have yet to see a “happy medium” that actually works. An employee repeatedly abuses the privilege and in the end, ends up getting fired. So if the company wants to keep an otherwise good employee, it falls on the company to spend more to ‘attempt’ to educate the employee to do something which that employee may or may not adhere-to. From a stockholder’s perspective, that may not be perceived to be the best way to use company funds. Not all employees will abuse the privilege, though. And in today’s world, it is a ‘must’ that the company works with all new employees to educate them on the company policies regarding all of this. But I think trends show that the younger the persons are who are entering the work force, the harder it is for them to grasp the purpose of the policies. –Which is another problem in itself. Who knows? Oh, I know, the proponents say, “This can be achieved by…” whatever “program” they are selling, but at this point in the evolution of the issue, as far as the younger employees are concerned, its less expensive, and thereby increases company profit, to just say, “not at this time.”

  5. yes, thats true employees and IT-departments should join forces to make new simple and sensible policies.

    -Dilawer Hussain

  6. Actually with the growth of technology and advancement of the last days of great importance that companies paying attention to their employees for better development.

  7. Can’t say I’m surprised. Not at all. IF I were to be surprised about something, it would be that as little as 24% doesn’t know if their organisation has any policies.

    More interesting would be to ask (1) where to find their policies, (2) how any employee read/use/interact with policy requirements, and (3) how often employees know or believe they are violating their organisations policies in some way or another.

    The best thing about policies is that there are so many of them. Which one to follow? Tough choice – especially if you want to get your job done as well.

    Best regards,
    Per Thorsheim

  8. Yes,the company must have to pay attention towards their needs to run a successful business or for deploying quality.