Allowing Internet use in the office

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Fam Pract Manag. 2009 May-June;16(3):7.

I sympathize with Dr. Dom Dera's struggle in “Reducing Improper Internet Use in Your Office: A Quick, Easy and Free Solution” [March/April 2009]. Restricting staff to using the Internet for business purposes only is a daunting task.

The Internet is so useful, and I rely on it daily to inform myself about drugs, therapeutic options, diseases, over-the-counter “supplements” that patients tell me about and much more. I would be fooling myself if I didn't admit to a certain amount of time-wasting on news and commentary sites and playing Freecell. I suppose the staff does the same, but I don't agree that playing cat-and-mouse with Web site blocking is a great idea.

If staff members are getting their work done but using free time to surf, then either there are too many employees or we need to come up with constructive projects for the office. My office floor plan is open; there are no cubicles. If someone were to spend inordinate amounts of time on the Internet or playing games, it would be obvious immediately. Our employees are encouraged to think first of the welfare of the patients, then of the health of the office, and to behave as responsible adults. In general, the staff rises to this expectation. If they want to look at pictures of their grandkids in their spare moments, then that is fine with me. If someone wants to look at an adult site out of curiosity, I guess I don't have a problem with that either. A person only has to look at a few of them, and very briefly, to lose that curiosity.

I do agree that it is important to protect the network with anti-virus and anti-phishing software, but even that is not foolproof. The staff needs to be educated about viruses and their sources, and how to avoid them.


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