The growing popularity and use of Web 2.0 and social media is not going unnoticed by employers. It's one thing when the kids are setting up private email and IM accounts and using social network sites; it's another when it's their employees. As I work with clients to develop their social media capabilities and expand their repertoire of social marketing capacity, I am very aware that in some corners of these organizations there are people who believe they are witnessing the rise of anarchy, or at least the wild, wild west.
Brad Stone in the NYT looks at the corporate response to the growing use of free web-accessible email accounts by employees, particularly the threats to corporate information, patient privacy and legal liabilities.
...when DeKalb Medical Center in Atlanta started monitoring its staff use of Web-based e-mail, it found that doctors and nurses routinely forwarded confidential medical records to their personal Web mail accounts — not for nefarious purposes, but so they could continue to work from home...
But it is not easy to wean people off of their online mailboxes. “Of course they scream,” said Todd Wilson, an operations manager at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. “They look at me like I have three heads.”
On other fronts, Shel Holtz noted last April that corporate firewalls were blocking access to RSS feeds and podcasts and that companies were initiating other measures to block employee access to the internet (a move he likened to not allowing employees to bring newspapers to work because they might look at sports scores rather than only 'business-related' items). He also presents the business case for why employee access to RSS feeds IS important (for those of you who need some talking points).
In some quarters, restrictions on employees going to social network sites are getting lumped together with prohibitions against pornography and gambling sites. If you organization doesn't have a group looking at these issues, perhaps it should. Having an equal balance of the marketing and communication needs of the organization with those of the IT and legal beagles would be a nice touch too.