How SMB employees feel about their tech resources

Do social networks really sap worker productivity? Is your staff following corporate IT policies? A survey of 1,110 small-business employees confirms your suspicions.

Yes, Virginia, mobile technology such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks improves how your employees feel about their jobs: about 75 percent of them appreciate being able to work everywhere.

But almost all of them are blurring the lines between professional and purposes when it comes to how mobile technology is used. Almost a quarter of them do so "often," while another 38 percent admit to "sometimes" tapping company-owned technology resources for personal purposes. Another third of them do it rarely, but they do it.

All of these findings are part of research sponsored by GFI Software, called the 2013 State of the Small Business Employee Report. The survey included 1,119 employees from companies with two to 99 employees, polled by research organization GfK Group during late September and early October. 

Aside from those two revelations, here are some other things you should know about the relationship between small-business employees and the technology that your company provides for work:

  • 87 percent worry that they could become a victim of identity theft or other electronic crimes as a result of using work computer systems

  • 33 percent use social networks for personal reasons during their work day, and 18 percent admit that it negatively affects productivity

  • About 53 percent work for companies that have written policies governing their work computer use; among that group, 22 percent admit to having violated those policies

  • 43 percent have connected to their company's network from a remote location using a mobile computing device

  • Just 36 percent work for a business that actively blocks employees from visiting certain Web sites 

Taken in aggregate, these findings suggest that the combination of expanded access to Internet resources and social media that small businesses are making possible through mobile devices is making SMBs more vulnerable to data breaches. Then again, this really shouldn't surprise you, should it?

This is another remind that it isn't just hackers targeting centralized databases that smaller companies should worry about when considering whether or not they have inadequate security measures in places. Unmonitored Internet access or connectivity by employees, for the sake of encouraging improved productivity, could very well have the reverse effect in the form of compromised privacy: both professional and personal. In this case, what you don't know, can hurt you. Where's your New Year's resolution list? This is another argument for adding a mobile device management policy, if it isn't in your budget plans.