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Case Problem – Is the Internet Draining Our Productivity?

Casey Bauman is the founder and CEO of, a company that processes orders for a large number of e-tailers. About 75 percent of his clients are pure players whose only business is selling consumer products over the Internet, such as beauty aids supplied by other companies. The other 25 percent of the company’s clients are bricks-and-mortar retailers who also sell merchandise over the Internet. Many companies find the outsourcing order fulfillment is less expensive than developing and staffing their own orderfulfillment centers. Management Assignment Help

Bauman’s firm continues to grow steadily, as many dotcom companies and traditional retailers look for ways to reduce staffing and information technology expenses. Orderfulfillment employs 51 full-time workers and 23 part-time workers. Part-time employees handle most of the order-taking activity between midnight and 7 AM.

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Despite the robustness of his business, Bauman looks toward enhancing the productivity of his own firm. One of his specific concerns is that his order-fulfilment specialists are spending too much time surfing the Internet. An occasional spot-check by Bauman revealed that many images appeared on the monitor screens that are unrelated to order fulfillment.

To verify his suspicions about too much surfing on company time, Bauman hired an Internet detective, Troy Muldoon, to come in and investigate Orderfulfillment’s server logs, These logs record all Internet activity on a network, indicating who visited what Web site, the duration of the visit. what the visitors searched for, and where they went next.

Muldoon went through the logs, piecing together patterns of nonbusiness activity on the Internet. Thirty percent of the staff was visiting news sites including sports news, 25 percent visited pornographic sites, and 20 percent were shopping during working hours. Several staff members came in on weekends to catch up with their work, but then spent several hours surfing the Web for recreation. Management Assignment Help

Muldoon informed Bauman of his findings. “I see a familiar pattern here,” said Muldoon. “I’ll give you your company specific findings. But before overreacting, I want to share some data with you collected by”


September 2000 vaultcom survey, adapted in Alan Cohen, “No Web for You,” Fortune Small Business, October 2000, p. 56.

“You’ll note that the people who responded to the survey were light on visits to pornographic sites. That’s good for their employers, because visiting porn sites can lead to complaints about sexual harassment. You appear to be more at risk”

Bauman responded, “This information is very helpful. It appears that we have a real productivity drain here at OrderfulfiIIment. Maybe I’ll block Internet access, or threaten my employees with severe punishments if they surf on company time.

“Hold on Casey,” said Muldoon. “You don’t want to make an overcorrection. You have to take into account factors such as the natural tendency of employees to find ways to goof off. If employees call home to touch base with family members. would you block telephone access? What about the smokers who step outside the building for 10 minutes? Do you punish them?

“I want to work with you to get productivity on track. But not damage morale.”

Bauman replied, “You’ve given me some good ideas to work on. I need to think through this productivity problem a little more.”

Discussion Questions

1. In what way are the Internet detective’s findings related to employee productivity?

2. What actions. if any. do you think Bauman should take?

3. What is your evaluation of the ethics of a company hiring an outsider to investigate the server logs?

4. Based on your personal experiences, how accurate is the study about Internet surfing? Management Assignment Help