BT wages war on 'cyber-slacking'

A BT initiative has been set up to assist SME's track down 'cyberloafers' in the workplace

BT Group on Thursday unveiled a new business targeting SMEs who are riddled with inefficiencies resulting from email and Web abuse. BT has invested £3m in setting up the company, called Open Orchard, and has committed a further £3m for the next stage of its development. Small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to control and monitor their employees' use of email and the Web are being offered a software application called BT Ensure which has been developed by UK software firm Orchestria. Open Orchard chief executive Yvonne Thomas said: "Email and web use is part of every business, every day, and Orchestria allows companies to reduce their risk and exposure resulting from that usage". High-profile instances of employee web abuse and email misuse reflecting badly upon their employer are becoming more common place - with the infamous Claire Swire email and that sent by Trevor Luxton, perhaps the two most notorious examples. At the launch of Open Orchard, Colin Barrow, head of enterprise group at the Cranfield School of Management, revealed research which shows the full impact of so-called 'cyberloafing' on SMEs. Ninety-two per cent of businesses provide their staff with access to email and yet only 73 per cent have an email policy in place and only 75 per cent use any kind of monitoring. Barrow said: "It's very concerning that most SMEs don't have a legally robust email policy in place that could be used to effectively discipline staff. Although disciplinary cases may be rare, the new breed of cyberloafer is an expensive animal". The Cranfield research reveals that UK SMEs lose around 343 million man hours to cyberloafing each year and puts the total cost of this lost productivity at around £1.5bn per year.

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