By Frank Kenna
There’s a controversy going on about whether companies should allow their employees to use file-sharing services like Dropbox, Google Drive or SugarSync. I think they should, and here’s why.
1. These file-sharing services can increase productivity by reducing file-sharing friction between employees. Having a web-based central repository where files can be stored is an ideal solution for many non-sensitive documents.
2. It can also act as a backup; once a document is placed there, it’s in the cloud and not dependent on the integrity of anyone’s computer.
3. Your employees are showing you the way they “got there” first. Don’t penalize them for that.
4. Realize that this is coming and embrace it. The cloud is here and not going anywhere. Just as corporations have tried to resist usage of bring-you-own-devices (BYOD) by employees, fighting the cloud tide is futile.
5. Use this as a collaboration opportunity with your employees to set up policies and procedures such as work groups and password protocols.
What about the dangerous aspects, like the loss of sensitive or confidential info? File-sharing naysayers point to surveys that show many employees forget to add passwords to documents, or forget to delete them after a set period of time. But the answer to that shouldn’t be to not use the technology; it should be to fix the problem employees, to enforce security procedures to attain total compliance. And granted, some information just shouldn’t be moved around at all. Those cases should be covered by strongly worded security policies, and the people who have access to those materials should only be trusted employees.
Use of new technologies in the workplace has always raised questions. There was a time when it was debated if employees should have telephones at their desks. After all, they may call the wrong people and say the wrong things! Internet access was the same, with most employees initially being blocked from it. The same with email, texting, social sites like Facebook and personal devices like iPads. And now Dropbox and the like.
This is all progress. But change can be hard. Managers need to be open and flexible to these new ideas and then be willing to adjust appropriately to the new realities of technology in the workplace.