Avoid Bandwidth Overhaul and Security Risks This Holiday Season
With online sales expected to grow 15 percent this holiday season, consumers will be making purchases from a variety of devices and places — including work. While some employers have taken a liberal stance toward online shopping and personal internet use, the holiday shopping season threatens to strain bandwidth capacities to a point that would frustrate even the most lenient of employers. In some organizations, free-for-all bandwidth consumption might lead to an office network crash, hindering not only deal shoppers, but others in the office attempting to — shockingly enough — conduct actual company business. For example, the Huffington Post noted on Cyber Monday last year a peak of online activity at 11:25 a.m. EST, which falls well within the American workday in all U.S. time zones.
To combat potential internet outages and network slowdowns, companies can institute internet use policies that range in degree of leniency. At Windstream, we recommend that at a minimum your organization creates and enforces a policy that clarifies acceptable and unacceptable network use. Ultimately, you're in business to make money and your employees are there to contribute to your business goals, not to cash in on 50 percent-off bargains and free shipping offers. In addition to exhausting network resources, excessive internet use is a time drain that undercuts your company's bottom line.
Finally, an acceptable use policy protects your company in the event of an employee termination. When employers and employees are clear on the policies, both parties are better protected against misunderstandings and potential wrongful termination lawsuits.
Once your internet use policy is clearly outlined, there are several actions you can take to physically limit bandwidth use for nonbusiness-related activities. Consider installing a firewall to allow content filtering by the IT department. The firewall can be turned off and on as necessary. For example, restrictions could be lifted during the lunch hour, letting employees shop during the approved time window.