Who hasn't sneakily browsed the web for personal reasons while at work? It's a given, and businesses have put in place fair use policies to guide staff as to what is acceptable web behaviour and what is strictly off limits.
Combined with blacklists of offending websites, in many ways such policies have proved pretty adequate, bar the occasional faux pas when very private photos accidentally find their way to everyone in the global e-mail directory.
But this cosy state of affairs is set to change as a new generation of staff join companies. As Dennis Szerszen points out in The productivity challenge: Working with the iPod generation, "The iPod generation will expect a certain degree of leniency when it comes to using technology for leisure purposes while at work."
New graduates have grown up with instant messaging, memory sticks, digital cameras and MP3 players. They will expect to use such technology at work, and arguments for banning downloads of podcasts over the company network, for example, are going to be harder to make stick as bandwidth prices fall.
There are already ways to minimise the risks, so rather than stopping the use of these devices, there is a strong case for the IT director to embrace them to create more effective ways of working. For example, a USB memory stick could easily hold a user's entire corporate desktop configuration, licence keys, or even a one-time password generator. And a podcast could be used as a channel to distribute corporate training.
With suitable software, perhaps one day you will see an iPod user viewing offline documents, newspapers, or a downloaded copy of Computer Weekly on the device. It certainly beats sitting next to someone on the daily commute whose idea of fun is listening to Iron Maiden at full blast on little white headphones.
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