Rowers in galleons were flogged to row faster, better, higher, pun intended. Modern day corporate environments tend to display the same behavior by using high tech means, see web filtering and internet blocking.
I for one do not think, nor have I witnessed productivity increases by throttling the employees’ use of the internet! Slackers will find other ways to slack. To my experience when people spent an inordinate amount of time with diversions is when they are either unhappy with their work or have lost focus. Both are afflictions caused by management or lack of thereof.
In the first case by limiting an unhappy person you will make him/her unhappier therefore even less productive.In the second case an unfocused employee is someone who is severely underutilized so if by taking away the diversions he/she will probably fall asleep and nobody will notice! To give an operative example think if the girls and guys in the call center, you know the ones taking all the verbal abuse by the company’s clientele.They are also the ones who give the first impression about the company to the customer base. By taking away their diversions then their stress level invariably increases and therefore the politeness level in the handling of customers decreases. It is obvious that one must keep these overworked and underpaid people happy or at least not unhappy.
That is to say I am not a proponent of absolutely free use of the net. Illegal downloads and material must be blocked. It could embarrass the company if publicized or potentially bring legal trouble. By properly utilizing a web traffic blocker/monitor but without blocking too much content gives you another advantage. By using analysis software, one can deduce utilization patterns that can highlight work behavior without needing to micromanage employees. Care of course must be taken against indulging in peeping on personal data!