Recently, it was reported that Procter & Gamble (P&G) is blocking the use of some websites by its employees. They selected Pandora (the music streaming site) and Netflix (the video streaming site) to be blocked from all 129,000 employee’s use during the workday, over the company’s computer network. Previously, the consumer package goods company had required employees to seek senior executive approval before receiving access to some websites.
P&G had found that on an average day, employees were viewing 50,000 five-minute YouTube videos, and listening to 4,000 hours of music on Pandora. The company claims employee usage of the Internet was slowing down bandwidth at the company.
"They're both great sites," P&G Spokesman Paul Fox is quoted in the WSJ, "But if you want to download movies, do it on your own time. If you want to download music, do it on your own time."
Of course what P&G is missing here, as many corporations do, is that their Generation Y/Millennial population is a generation of multi-taskers who are constantly streaming work and play throughout their day. Work is no longer just 9-to-5, with emails, conference calls, and work projects assigned to all hours of an employee’s life. So, if work can invade our private time, why can’t play invade work? Millennials have the capacity to seamlessly toggle back and forth between work and play, nearly 24 hours a day. The idea that a company can “force” an employee to sit and only think about work while they are sitting at their desk is utterly implausible.
Also at issue is the concept of “play” as an integral part of business innovation and creativity. We are motivated and inspired by creative stimulus—whether it be music, video, or an article on a site like, THE FIVE (www.getthefive.com). For a company like P&G, who markets products to consumers, you’d think they’d want their employees to be in touch with popular trends, and consumer behaviors. The Internet is an amazing tool to do so. So, limiting access to it seems preposterous.
The interplay of work and play is a necessity in today’s business culture. It motivates, and inspires employee creativity and innovation. Don’t stifle it, embrace it. And, don’t use “network bandwidth” as a reason to stifle innovation…get a bigger network, or risk a smaller return from your employees.