Thinking about blocking inappropriate websites from employees? Here's how.
- One way to increase employee productivity is to block websites that you do not want them to visit.
- Each browser has its own way of blocking websites, even though they are not part of the typical installation.
- You can purchase monitoring software that will capture every move your employees make.
When employees are working on your dime, you want to make sure they're not wasting time. If you're worried about productivity or that your employees may be spending work hours on inappropriate websites, you may want to consider blocking some websites from employee use.
However, before you take action and start restricting access, you should consider the consequences. Some business owners don't believe blocking websites is the best idea.
"The quickest and most effective way to demotivate employees is by not trusting them," said Jonathan Prichard, founder and CEO of MattressInsider. "Restricting access paints you as a micromanager and will 100% reduce employee satisfaction."
Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher, agrees that blocking every nonwork-related website is counterproductive. "It's natural that employees are going to use the internet to slack off occasionally at work, for the odd minute, and these breaks can help to refocus the mind," he added.
Sometimes, though, blocking some websites is necessary. "From a security standpoint, there are sites that pose greater security risks based on their content," said Ralph Labarta, chief technology officer at Engage PEO. "Coincidentally, the sites that pose greater risks are generally aligned with non-work activity – gambling, porn, politics, etc."
Some business owners also decide to block websites to increase productivity or to ensure employees aren't accessing inappropriate websites on business devices. If you plan to create restrictions, here are a few tips to follow.
1. Be transparent with employees.
If you decide to restrict websites, be transparent with your staff. You should explain what websites and categories you're restricting and why. Your staff will appreciate the transparency and won't waste time contacting IT if they have problems accessing a blocked website.
Labarta recommends also including the information in an internet use policy. "The policy should include a protocol for accessing sites that are blocked but may have a need for legitimate access, a warning that attempting to thwart site restrictions is a violation of the policy, and a warning that all site activities are monitored."
If you're considering blocking social media websites, Prichard recommends creating a social media policy first and only stepping in if a problem arises.
"Instead of restricting access, create a companywide social media policy," he said. "This document should include guidelines for what you expect in terms of time spent on social media sites during office hours. Give them the structure, [and] allow them to make decisions for themselves."
2. Use a browser extension.
The easiest way to block a website or category of websites on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is with the browser add-on BlockSite. With this add-on, you can block specific websites such as Facebook, all adult websites in a single click, or URLs that contain specific words.
BlockSite also works on Chrome's incognito mode. If you're worried your employees will access BlockSite to manage blocked websites, you can set up a password to limit access.
3. Use employee monitoring software.
If you want a more extreme solution, you should consider purchasing employee monitoring software. Employee monitoring software can track almost every move your employees take, from how many minutes they are inactive to their keystrokes.
Some of the best employee monitoring software also offers content-filtering features. These features allow you to regulate websites and certain topics, such as weapons, drugs and nudity. You can also block individual websites by manually adding them to the list of prohibited websites. In addition, you can create notifications and alerts that are triggered when an employee browses restricted content. [Interested in employee monitoring software? Check out our business.com guide.]
How to block a website on chrome
Blocking websites in Chrome is not part of the regular installation process, but it does allow you to block sites. Computer Hope gives these step-by-step instructions on how to block a website on Chrome:
- Go to the Chrome web site and visit the "Block site extensions" page.
- On the right side of the page at the top, there is a button that says "Add to Chrome." Click that button.
- A window pops up with a button that says "Add extension." Click this to confirm the installation of the extension. Once you see the "Thank-you" page, you know the extension has been installed.
- At the top right-hand side of the window, you see a button with three dots in a row from top to bottom. Click that button, which is the customize and control Google Chrome button.
- From the menu, select "More tools," then select "Extensions."
- The "Block site options" page opens to allow you to enter the websites you want to block. Type the website in the box and click the "Add page" button. That website is now blocked.
How to block a website on Firefox
Similar to Chrome, there are ways to block websites in Firefox, even though it does not come with the default installation. Computer Hope provides these step-by-step instructions on how to block a website on Firefox:
- From the list of menus at the top of the browser, select "Tools," then click the "Add-ons."
- Once you are in the Add-ons Manager page, look for a search bar in the top right corner. Type "BlockSite" into the search bar. The top result should be the one you want, which is the BlockSite add-on. Click the "Install" button.
- After the program installs, you will have to restart Firefox to finish the installation.
- Select the "Tools" menu, then click "Add-ons." From the Add-ons Manager, click on the "Extensions" tab.
- You will see the "Options" button, and it opens the BlockSite Preferences screen. From here, click the "Add" button. There is a window that appears asking which websites you want to block. Enter them here and click "OK." Click "OK" to exit the BlockSite screen.