Renata Polverini, the recently elected governor of the Lazio region (where Rome is located), issued two orders to prevent the region’s employees from accessing Facebook and other web sites that are deemed not be relevant for work-related purposes (see news in Italian).
In previous occasions I have been bashing on similar decisions (see previous post), but the data she shared are staggering. 70% of employees would be regularly accessing Facebook from work computers, while 20% would be spending time on YouTube or various instant messaging platforms. The article does not say whether they access sporadically or spend substantial amounts of time each day, but I have to admit that these numbers justify what the governor did.
The downside is that innovation will be stifled, and all those great examples that we start seeing from the personal use of social networks by employees won’t happen any time soon.
But how could it be otherwise? For how much people want government to be open and willing to engage with them, they also have the right – as taxpayers – to have evidence of efficiency and good behavior among government employees.
Of course this is not at all a technology problem, and some (many?) employees will use their smartphones to do the exact same thing. This is a management problem and, even more, a middle management problem.
The top executive can only issue restrictive directives if mid managers lack the ability and the willingness of measuring their people’s performances by the outcome they contribute to rather than the output they produce (for those of you who attend the Orlando Symposium, come and listen to the keynote). After all, this is not dissimilar from past discussions about coffee breaks, browsing the newspaper at one’s desk, or making personal phone calls. What is different is the scale and pervasiveness.
Banning access is more a message than a cure, to remind employees about their duties. The next challenge is how to make sure they live and breathe their codes of conduct, with or without Facebook.