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The Star Online > Nation

Monday September 6, 2010

Net surfing ‘freedom’ too costly


By RACHAEL KAM
rachael@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Employees surfing the Internet or chatting on social networking sites during office hours are costing companies of
millions of ringgit annually in lost productivity.

This has caused some employers to ban Internet access at the workplace as they find the “freedom” given to staff members too costly.

Fashion retailer Voir Holdings Bhd recently banned employees from going online after 5% of its employees were caught using office
computers to access Facebook and other networking sites. This did not include those tweeting on their mobile phones.

Its managing director Ham Hon Kit said in an interview that his company might risk losing up to RM2.4mil a year if employees spent two
work hours a day on such sites.

“Any delay in work, even by one employee, can affect the performance of the rest. The company may also lose business deals,” he said,
adding that employees whose work required them to go online did not come under the ban.

Cuepacs recently advised civil servants against accessing Facebook or similar sites during office hours following complaints that some were
being distracted from their work.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said employers should learn from the experience overseas and ban
their staff members from visiting social networking sites during office hours.

He said it was wrong for employees to use company facilities or their own gadgets to go onto Facebook or Twitter during office hours,
adding that some even went to the extent of badmouthing their employers in their postings.

According to British employment website MyJobGroup.co.uk, company staff who spent an hour daily on social networking sites during
work cost British businesses £14bil (RM67.2bil) a year.

Its poll also revealed that 6% or two million of Britain’s 34 million workers spent an hour each day on social media sites.

A study by IT staffing agency Robert Half Technology showed that 54% of companies in the United States had banned their workers from
using sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedln and MySpace during working hours.

Another 19% allowed social networking strictly for business purposes while a further 16% had “limited personal use”.

However, not all local businesses are against the use of social networking sites.

Retailer SenHeng Electric (KL) Sdn Bhd managing director Lim Kim Heng said there was no ban for its 1,250 employees because it had
yet to pose a threat.

“About 25% of my staff have Facebook accounts. Social networking is the lifestyle of the new generation, particularly those below 30 years
old.”

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