Yesterday was a typical day for me as a knowledge worker--lots of unrelated problems to solve, ranging from troubleshooting an issue with a Wordpress blog I was setting up for a client to gathering information on employment statistics for people with disabilities. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in having this kind of wide-ranging work to do. Even the specialists among us have found their job duties broadening in this tight economy.
For me, solving these problems turned out to be relatively easy. I work for myself and don't have to worry about site blocking, so was able to easily access and search the blogs, social networks, videos and forums that gave me the answers I needed. If necessary, I would also have been able to access my own networks through social media.
Unfortunately for the vast majority of front line workers at the organizations I work with, this would not have been the case. For them, many of these sites are blocked. If "blog" is in the title or URL, they can't go there. If the information is on a social network or forum, they can't visit it. Forget YouTube and its vast array of tutorials. Even many basic websites are blocked.
At the same time, their managers will complain that staff don't solve their own problems, that they aren't innovative or creative in their work. Well of course they aren't--they are denied basic access to the people and information that might actually help them get their jobs done! They are forced to rely on people within their own organizations--many of whom don't have the answer either--and on those websites the powers that be deem to be "acceptable."
When I do trainings and presentations, participants will frequently ask me how I "know so much." It's simple. No one is blocking my access to the web, so when I have a question, I can get an answer. I'm empowered to get information and solve problems on my own. If you want people to do their best work, they need the same access.