Anne Kirah, a senior Microsoft anthropologist, says IT staff believe they’re supporting workplace productivity by limiting private use of the Net. But they may be doing the opposite. Companies that filter Internet access or block IM communications are going to find it harder to hang on to staff, she told at a recent conference.
In an interview with the APC Magazine, Kirah talks about how this new generation of employees is turning the traditional notion of productivity on its head. They’re using the Net to stay in touch with their social circle and do personal tasks during work hours, but also logging on and working from home after hours. For them, the 9-5 work day no longer applies and IT managers may be dealing with nothing short of a revolution that’s based on universal availability of Net access:
The conflict arises because the employers’ benchmarks of productivity are based on something that doesn’t exist anymore. In the old world we measured productivity by just sitting your butt down 9 to 5. We were coming to work 9 to 5, what else would you do at work except work? (...)
I think the whole point is that there’s a cultural change going on. We’ve really moved from this 9-5 world to ‘just give me the deadlines and I’ll decide when I want to do it’…
This is especially true for the younger generation, she says:
What’s happening is that society has placed a lot of limits on children today. We don’t have free play any more, it’s gone. So free play has gone onto the Net. (...) What’s happened in the world today is that activities after school are all orchestrated by adults. There’s always an adult in there somewhere. (...) In terms of the social, in terms of the child-to-child, the internet is Mecca; this is the place where they can be.
Another interview with Anne Kirah: Lead design anthropologist (Monsters and Critics)