Work email guidelines must be flexible

Link: Delays hit email ‘snooping’ code

Web and email filtering company SurfControl is offering companies a free Filtering Audit to help prevent ‘unilateral’ policy making and instead create rules on how departments and even individual members of staff can use online resources based on specific job requirements.

The audit is a downloadable document that asks heads of departments to stipulate how their staff would like to use the internet, email, public Instant Messaging and Peer-to-Peer applications within the workplace.

They include selecting which types of email attachments are acceptable, setting time thresholds for non-business surfing appropriate for the department’s users and selecting whether public IM and P2P applications are required for work.

The audit’s findings can then be communicated to the relevant HR and IT functions to help draft an Acceptable Use Policy or update existing policies to reflect specific departmental requirements and allow companies to implement filtering tools according to each department’s internet use.

Launch of the tool comes just a week after mobile phone retailer Phones4U banned staff from using email in the workplace following concerns by the chain’s multi-millionaire owner, John Caudwell, that his 2,500 staff were spending too much time sending and receiving emails and not enough time dealing face to face with customers.

He said the ban will save staff up to three hours a day, which translates to a saving of £1m a month.

Martino Corbelli, marketing director at SurfControl, told VNU News Centre: ‘Companies need to recognise that policy making cannot be made upon high and that it’s important that you listen to the employees at the coalface about what they need in order to do their jobs.’

He described Caudwell’s email ban as an overreaction.

‘The message to employees is a slap on the wrist and treating them like children. It’s really about taking a commonsense approach. Blanket banning is restrictive. It’s should be about making the hard and fast rules more granular,’ Corbelli added.

Wayne Dick, technical manager, at international law firm Hammonds, said in a statement: ‘We now understand how our filtering needs vary throughout the company, something we could only really assume before.

‘By illustrating which departments need access to specific types of content and which do not, the audit has been key in implementing a more practical and effective filtering policy.’The audit is available for free download from

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