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A danger or just a distraction in the workplace?

Email and social media have their place in today’s world but what about their place at law firms? Many of us take the ease and convenience of email for granted but some law firms have started to lock attorneys’ access to their personal email from their work computers.

The reason behind blocking personal email was not that attorneys were distracted but rather security concerns. Certain law firms thought that employees might accidentally click on an email containing a virus, which in turn could wreak havoc on the office’s entire system. There are other theories/reasons why a firm or other place of business might block its employees email, including privacy and liability reasons.

I have also heard of offices blocking websites, such as Facebook, and I am not sure of the rationale behind this practice. I understand blocking certain sites for security reasons, but it seems that the reasons for blocking other sites (Facebook) would be more related to productivity.

I generally think it is OK for employees to have access to their personal email unless there are some serious security issues. I wonder how effective the law firms that have blocked personal email have found this practice and what the employees think about it.

Does blocking personal email lead to attorneys and other employees using their work email for personal matters more frequently? If attorneys are given cell phones through the firm, I would imagine they would still be able to check their personal email through the phones. (This also goes for Facebook and other websites.) Attorneys will still be able to access these sites via cell phones, so is it worth it to block these sites if the only concern is productivity?

What do you think? Is it a good idea for employers to block personal email and certain websites on work computers?