Jerry told me about frustrations at his new company. Here’s a possible conversation from my next interview (if there ever is one):

Jeff: Do you block web sites or other things like IM?
Interviewer: We filter on naughty words, we block web mail, and we also disallow use of instant messaging.
Jeff: Interesting. Why do you block web mail and IM?
Interviewer: Because we’ve found that some people tend to abuse it at the office. They also raise some concerns with respect to security.
Jeff: So you also block phone calls, then?
Interviewer: Of course not.
Jeff: Why not?
Interviewer: Well, people have legitimate business reasons to make phone calls.
Jeff: OK, first, there are legitimate business reasons to use IM. Second, you could block calls to individuals’ homes if you really wanted to.
Interviewer: Sometimes employees have legitimate need for personal calls. We find that’s ok if they don’t abuse the “privilege.”
Jeff: So, if talking on the phone all the time was a problem, a manager might intervene and have a discussion with the employee. That seems reasonable. It also seems reasonable that an employee might have a similar, legitimate need for personal emails from time to time.
Interviewer: But we block webmail.
Jeff: Thank you, and have a nice day.

Let’s face it, companies rarely change abusive policies like these. Sometimes, the best we can do is voice our disapproval and vote with our feet.

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