Keep your systems safe and your employee morale high with thoughtful IT policies

Big Brother is indeed watching you. On this, the 70th anniversary year of the publication of George Orwell’s 1984, it’s been ingrained in our culture that this is not a good thing. When your company reaches the point of creating IT policies that control what your employees can and cannot do at work, it feels like you are stepping into Big Brother’s shoes. But there’s good news: IT policy is not the same as Orwellian doublethink. IT policy is necessary—not a necessary evil, but a positive thing for an organization if you approach it correctly.

Understand how people are working

Of all the things needed to set IT policies, monitoring what your employees are doing feels the most Big Brother-ish. However, it’s not about power and control. Understanding how people do their work will help you balance your security needs with the needs of your work. For instance, you might think that setting a blanket policy against social media use might close a lot of backdoors into your network. True, but what about your communications director who needs to engage with customers via Twitter? You need to know what tools your people need to do their work, and how they can do that most productively.

Set realistic, thoughtful policies

What if you’ve decided that, in general, no one at work needs to access social media sites. But your marketing team is using Instagram from noon to 1 p.m. each day to raise awareness of your brand and engage with customers. From a strictly security perspective, you might think that setting a blanket policy to block social media looks appealing. But take a closer look. Not only does the marketing team need to access social media for legitimate work purposes, but it may be beneficial for the rest of the staff to blow off some steam during their lunch hour by perusing Instagram and checking up on the happenings on Facebook. Is that really a bad thing? Now imagine taking that away from them. That might really be a bad—morale—move. That’s why you need to be thoughtful about your policies. Each policy has an element of security, productivity, and employee morale associated with it.

Educate—don’t dictate

All that being said, you might find that the Instagram lunch hour is really doing a number on your security. So you do need to put that policy in place. The important part is how you do it. Educating employees about why you need to set certain policies will go a longer way to maintaining morale than dictating to them what they can and cannot do. Security should be everyone’s goal. By making everyone a partner in that goal, you will help ensure that you find that balance of security, productivity, and morale.

You can’t do this alone

You really aren’t an omnipotent Big Brother. You may even be just a team of one. You alone can’t track, monitor, and establish policies with this many human and technical edits associated with it. You need help that doesn’t break the bank. Take LanScope Cat, for example. The platform can actually help you through the entire lifecycle of an IT policy—from understanding to establishing to educating. Its integrated dashboard gives you the insights you need to determine how and when your workforce should be engaging online. Once you set those policies, it can alert users to what they need to do and help you understand how your education campaign is really working. In short, it can be in the weeds for you so that you can concentrate on building not only your business but also your high-performing teams.