Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Other Side of the BlackBerry


We already know that a big part of the web’s effect on commerce has been to monetize 9 to 5.

It used to be, when you went to work and sat in an office, or a cubicle, or a factory floor, you were insulated from advertising. Before everyone had a computer at their desk or a smartphone in their pocket, from about 9 to 5 you were unreachable by advertisers.

But it was also true that from about 5:10PM until 8:55 AM the following day, you were unreachable by employers. Most of your day was spent out of touch with the office and insulated from its concerns.

BlackBerrys and iPhones and laptops changed all that. People work now around the clock, wherever they are.

Except, apparently, at work. At least, that’s what Procter & Gamble has discovered. From

When P&G’s IT sleuths investigated why the company’s computers were running so slow, they found something surprising:

More than 50,000 YouTube videos were being downloaded from company computers every day. Along with watching videos, P&Gers were listening to 4,000 hours of music a day on Pandora, the personal playlist Web site.

These popular but bandwidth-slurping Web diversions were not only taking up work time, they were hobbling the company’s digital backbone.

50,000 videos a day? And no one said, Hey! Turn that off and get back to work? I guess not:

The top three bandwidth spikes in recent years occurred during major athletic events such as the World Cup, indicating employees are tuning in to or other sites to watch on company computers.

“These statistics indicate that access to non-business-critical Internet sites goes far beyond the business need,” the memo said.

Maybe if we all stopped carrying smartphones around, and stopped being so connected to the workplace, we wouldn’t feel like sitting in our offices and watching television all day.

There are 19 comments.

  1. mattman Inactive

    Ironically, I read this at work. Doh!!

    • #1
    • April 4, 2012, at 1:44 AM PST
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  2. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    mattman: Ironically, I read this at work. Doh!! · 6 minutes ago

    Me too. Now I feel guilty. 

    Thanks Rob.

    • #2
    • April 4, 2012, at 1:50 AM PST
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  3. Ed G. Member

    I managed to avoid a smartphone until last year. It felt good when I could put down the work implements and turn my mind to entirely different interests even if that meant staying later at the office to get the work done. Now, if the man expects me to be on clock at all times then the man also better expect that I’m going to blend those other interests into my day somehow. Something has to give, and I already give plenty.

    • #3
    • April 4, 2012, at 1:54 AM PST
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  4. No Caesar Thatcher

    Actually I like having music in the background while I’m working. Also, almost the only YouTube videos I watch are professionally-related. There’s a lot out there that’s relevent for business or science. 

    • #4
    • April 4, 2012, at 2:00 AM PST
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  5. Southern Pessimist Member

    Keep in mind that this was at a private company. I was going to add a humorous link to the problem in government agencies so I googled “Porn found on government computers” and had 46,400,000 hits to choose from.

    • #5
    • April 4, 2012, at 2:05 AM PST
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  6. Profile Photo Member

    We are small but have the same problems- cell phones and texting were the worst, however both are pretty well under control (or out of sight). We’re spread out and it’s noisy and many areas without intercoms. Several of us have now found that texting each other at work really does save a lot of time, and can be especially good if a key person, shall we say, lacks communications skills.

    • #6
    • April 4, 2012, at 2:18 AM PST
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  7. James Of England Moderator

    If people care a lot about the World Cup, and we all know people for whom it is an extremely big deal, I’d have thought it was worth letting some match watching slide. If they watch the World Cup and anything else that’s going on, their productivity will be awful and their position will be impacted accordingly; the problem then isn’t the World Cup so much being generally workshy, something you can’t really fix, but a general part of that employee’s profile, like his training, cost, and personality. 

    If, like my brother, there are a few sporting events a year that obsess them, but they are otherwise terrific workers, you’re letting them build their day around their priorities in a way that is going to be much healthier than forcing them to take days off. For some, you’d want, as my wife has, a system for clocking on and clocking off for an hour or two at work, but for others, again, you lay out the achievements you expect and let them manage their time to get the work done. This is particularly obvious if you let people work from home.

    • #7
    • April 4, 2012, at 3:23 AM PST
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  8. Valiuth Member

    Do people really work 8 hours straight. In science at least half the work is waiting. I once spent 16 hours in a lab from 8AM to 12AM of this time I think 6 hours of it easily was me waiting for things to shake for 30 minutes so I could add solution B and let shake for 60 minutes… You do other things but really you bring a book or surf the web. I also once spent 4 hours on a microscope 1 and 1/2 hours of that was taking a stack of is all automated…there is nothing to do but wait, and surf the web.

    Companies are just being cheap, I mean think how much time people waste talking to each other. The question is are people doing the work you hired them to do by the time you ask them to do it. If they are, you can’t complain.

    • #8
    • April 4, 2012, at 3:38 AM PST
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  9. Casey Inactive

    Corporate life would be a dreary, dreadful, unproductive graveyard without internet access. 

    Or with… either way.

    • #9
    • April 4, 2012, at 3:40 AM PST
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  10. Spin Coolidge

    So timely, this post. Our bandwidth spiked on Monday. The culprit: an iTunes update. Everyone came in and started their iTunes up and next thing you know, gigabytes of data coming across the wire. I guess we’ll pay an overage…again! Our top sites were almost always streaming media…until I blocked all of it. Hey, we pay for that you know!

    Definitely going to use the article from to further my IT nazi agenda…

    • #10
    • April 4, 2012, at 3:55 AM PST
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  11. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    P&G is just discovering their bandwidth is getting chewed by YouTube and iTunes and everything else? Where have they been for the past 15 years or so? Those sites are routinely blocked at any company that has one or two marbles left rolling around in the brainpan. I’m having a hard time understanding why Grampa at the P&G IT department still has a job.

    • #11
    • April 4, 2012, at 4:06 AM PST
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  12. flownover Inactive

    Southern-As usual you’re spot on. That is really a seminar teaching gov employees how to screw things up ….

    • #12
    • April 4, 2012, at 4:26 AM PST
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  13. Profile Photo Member

    Depends on the job and if you have legitimate down time. If you don’t and there is always something to do, too much personal time is stealing time and doesn’t go unnoticed even if not mentioned (I’m not talking about peeks, or taking a break). I predict these people will be the first to say they don’t get paid enough, really deserved that raise, and so-and-so makes more than I for the same job. Nobody wants to believe there may be a ceiling on their income whether it is what the job is worth or a reflection of their effort. Thus all the time spent on the internet by government workers.

    • #13
    • April 4, 2012, at 4:27 AM PST
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  14. SMG Member

    Yeah, the Pandora mention is a bit misleading, since everyone I know who listens to radio at work is trying to drown out the rest of the office so they can get something done. Youtube, well, there are plenty of professional-type videos out there, but I’d be more suspicious of that too.

    • #14
    • April 4, 2012, at 6:38 AM PST
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  15. EThompson Inactive

    The question is are people doing the work you hired them to do by the time you ask them to do it. If they are, you can’t complain.

    As a former member of corporate America and a current business owner, I couldn’t disagree more.

    What separates the competition is the work done above and beyond the required tasks. It’s called “thinking outside the box” and it isn’t done from 9-5 with breaks to browse personal web sites. Any of the employees working for the late, great Steve Jobs would tell you they were obsessed 24-7 with the mission.

    • #15
    • April 4, 2012, at 7:24 AM PST
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  16. Goddess of Discord Inactive
    flownover: Southern-As usual you’re spot on. That is really a seminar teaching gov employees how to screw things up …. · 3 hours ago

    I work in county government. Everything is blocked – to the point that can hinder productivity. That and some of the employees who, as one poster put it, lacks communication skills. Now that I joined the smart phone bandwagon, I can watch Youtube whenever I get a moment if I were so inclined, but I would rather get my work done. I do enjoy having Pandora available to listen to while I work.

    • #16
    • April 4, 2012, at 7:47 AM PST
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  17. Stu In Tokyo Inactive

    I run our family business, so this “8 hours a day” thing is a funny joke. We work from 10:30 AM until 1:00 AM six days a week, then from 6:00 PM until 1:00 AM on Sundays. that is 94 Hours a week. Trust me sitting in a retail shop, without the net it would get very boring. We also work when we are not in the shop, really it never ends, but I would not want to be an 8 hour a day drone working at some big company. I think that if we did have employes I’d be rather upset to find them sitting on their behinds watching a video instead of working, as there is ALWAYS something to do, I pay them to work, not watch YouTube. Maybe that is why we don’t have any employes?

    • #17
    • April 4, 2012, at 7:57 AM PST
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  18. CoolHand Inactive
    Valiuth: In science at least half the work is waiting.

    It is when doing machine work too, especially long lathe work.

    The machine feeds automatically (for the best surface finish possible), so once you’ve dialed in the settings and engaged the feed lever, there is nothing to do except watch it make chips.

    You can’t wander off though, because you’ve still gotta watch for the development of crap-ups (tool going dull, surface finish going to crap, vibration, chatter, broken tools, etc).

    So basically, you sit and stare at a shower of chips coming off the cutting tool as it peels that material off the diameter of a spinning bar of metal.

    After several hours it gets to be almost Zen like, so much so that I have to be very careful that I don’t miss a dimension by forgetting to disengage the feed in the right place.

    I don’t know about that smart phone stuff though, as I have thus far resisted assimilation.

    I’m still rocking a flip phone from ’05 or ’06.

    And even the flip phone gets put on silent when I get home at night.

    • #18
    • April 4, 2012, at 11:42 AM PST
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  19. CoolHand Inactive
    Stu In Tokyo: I run our family business, so this “8 hours a day” thing is a funny joke.

    This very true.

    I’m self employed, and if I let it, the job will consume every hour I’m awake and some of the hours I’m asleep too.

    It got to the point several years ago that I had to force myself to take at least one day a week off, because the stress and the amount of time I spent at work was literally killing me.

    Now, I take Sat and Sun off, whether I have something going at the shop of not.

    Sometimes I just watch the races, sometimes I go to town anyway and work on a “pleasure” project, other times I do maintenance and catch up on other non-“work” related work, and still other times, I sleep all day. Heh.

    Never underestimate how much better ten to twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep can make you feel (especially after a long succession of 4-6hr nights). It can take me from feeling like death warmed over, to ready to grab life by the ho-jos. Definitely a day well spent, IMO.

    • #19
    • April 4, 2012, at 11:53 AM PST
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