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Master Napster: Napster in the workplace - a strange situation

Posted by netwebly | 12.07.2000
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Napster in the Workplace
Given the laid back and hip image of the modern workplace many employers are trying to sell to employees, it seems strange that many are deciding to ban Napster or monitor employee use of the program.
Many employers allow employees to listen to the radio or to their own music at work - a policy that's even more prevalent when you look at dot com employers.

Is it fair to prohibit people from using a program that is, after all, in many people's minds the digital age equivalent of the radio?

Napster in the Workplace: The Cons
The bottom line may be that Napster use in the workplace is unproductive - with some exceptions.
Napster is unlike radio in many ways. Finding and downloading the songs you want on Napster takes a lot more time than it takes to twiddle the tuner on a radio or change CDs in a CD player. Finding music on Napster can be an intensive, all-consuming pursuit, the kind of thing that can seriously eat up the better part of the day - a major of course, so many people enjoy using. Employers may be right to consider this unproductive.

How fair is it to demand to be paid for the time you spend downloading free music?

The bandwidth problem is also a big issue for many employers. Bandwidth can be an expensive thing - no sane businessperson is going to let their network suffer so you can listen to a cover of Hippy Hippy Shake by the Muffs while you're supposed to be finishing a spreadsheet.

Napster in the Workplace: The Pros
On the other hand, in some cases Napster use can have positive effects that may far outweigh any negative impact the program might have. The key for managers and other decision makers: understanding the role Napster plays in keeping the troops alive and kicking and (at least) semiconscious.

These days many employers, especially in the tech sector, ask employees to make huge sacrifices for the good of the company. Web designers, programmers and content people all routinely log crazy hours when a project starts moving.

Our opinion:
If an employee is spending more time at their desk than they are at home, if they're working Saturdays and late into the night more than once a week, they have more than earned the right to take a few minutes off every now and then to fiddle around with something like Napster.

Think of Napster as another perk: like a pool table, free soda, or anything else you'd offer your employees to keep a smile on their faces. If the bandwidth issue raises problems - set guidelines governing Napster use and make sure they are followed.

Next up - Hide and go seek

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