Editorial: Increasing productivity

All of us at one point or another have used a work computer for personal business — to browse news, shopping, auction or weather Web sites, for example.

In fact, employees' use of work equipment was an issue even before PCs arrived on the scene. Workers used the telephone for personal calls or the copy machine to make copies of their children's book reports, for instance.

With the advent of the personal computer — a name that makes many managers cringe because it implies that the computer is one's personal property — opportunities for abuse have grown. Computers have revolutionized the way people work; they have become the primary tool we use to communicate, conduct research and store information. Information technology may have elevated our productivity, but it also has increased the chances for abuse.

As the Internet continues to become an essential part of our daily lives, the lines between work and personal uses sometimes get blurred. Shopping on eBay is clearly abuse, right? But what about that employee at the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service who comes up with a great idea for improving the agency's online buying systems after using eBay's online auction?

Certainly, government employees and managers should rely on common sense when considering using government-owned systems for personal use. Some activities are clearly out of bounds: Spending most of the day shopping online is obviously wrong, and clearly visiting porn sites is inappropriate. But supervisors should not resort to micromanaging their employees.

Generally, computer abuse is a symptom of a larger problem. Therefore, managers should view such abuse as a performance problem.

But computer abuse should not be met with Draconian crackdowns. Agencies already have a difficult enough time attracting job candidates.

To quote the late Ronald Reagan, the best course of action is to trust but verify. Yes, there is going to be abuse, but those exceptions should not set the standards for everybody else.

Featured

  • Telecommunications
    Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

    GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

    Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

    OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

    The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

  • Acquisition
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

    The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.