Extreme office measures & zero internet policy


Hi everyone,

Would like to get a general opinion from everyone and see how office cultures differ between us....

  1. My office practices a zero- internet policy on all our workstations. In order to get on the internet to do research, we have to log out of our accounts and sign in with a public username. This is definitely a hassle to save and shut down all the programs, then sign in again.
  2. Most people will go to a public computer to use the internet in this case. In which the machine is ancient, slow, lagging, and shared by 20 staffs...
  3. (However, the most cumbersome process starts here).....All images/ datas can only be downloaded into a separate harddrive (say B, which is the public computer), in  which has to be transferred (via public computer) onto our work station (Drive A).
  4. It is not possible to copy files out of the company, say if you would want to work from home over the weekend. To do so, employees have to seek permission from the Director and sign an application form. Files will be copied by an admin staff.
  5. 5MB is the allowable maximum size to send out emails. (To prevent file theft). Presentation files to clients have to be broken into parts or uploaded by admin staff to an FTP (password protected).
  6. There are no personal work emails, only senior management has their own. All emails are sent out using the team’s project email, and has to be cc-ed back to the same project email, so that team members could keep track what has been sent out by others.

This policy (1-5) was implemented when an ex- employee of the company stole private & confidential files out of the office. However as a designer i find this disruptive to our workflow. I have repeatedly abandoned the idea to find nice precedent images just because it is way too inconvenient.

What do you guys think? Is this the only way for offices to protect intellectual data? Do big offices/ big names do this? Are the various practices mentioned above extreme? As an employee, i felt that trust & respect do not exist in the office.  

Mar 4, 14 3:26 pm

wow. well, unless those confidential files are the difference between having a firm or not (meaning the value of those files is that high or you're firm would be fired if it was found out that they were compromised), then, yes, it's pretty much a huge hassle from what you've described. nuts, actually.

Mar 4, 14 3:38 pm

it's really a pretty dumb way to try to fix what they think is a problem.

if you're clever, you can probably still steal everything in the office or break whatever you want, they just made it a little more difficult, and they're kind of incentivizing you to do so.  if this is the solution they've implemented, it's highly unlikely they're smarter than the average technically inclined person.

the normal solution is for a business owner/HR department to hire adults.  i don't think you will ever get someone to trust you without you trusting them in return.

Mar 4, 14 3:52 pm

Maybe it's easier to go back to vellum and t-squares?  Less download time...

Mar 4, 14 4:09 pm
Yeah. That's nuts. You could still use a memory stick or DVD and take whatever you wanted to.
Mar 4, 14 4:10 pm
Saint in the City

What time is recess and bathroom break?  Don't forget your hall pass.

Sure, some things need to be on lockdown -- If everyone had random access to payroll, HR info, personal info, etc. -- then yeah, that's a problem.  That stuff needs protection / limited access.

But project files?  Is the firm's work so awesome and highly prized that secret agents disguised as interns are a prevalent problem?  

Feels a lot like Bobby was talking in class and now none of us gets to go on the field trip.

Mar 4, 14 4:14 pm

I'll bet productivity is way up.

If not, time to get some new interns.

Mar 4, 14 4:45 pm

Don123 that is the most absurd set of internet policies I have seen and anything but normal.  Although the line of thinking that got management to that conclusion is really common in this profession.

No offense, but you're firms sounds a bit like a labor camp.  I bet you guys hire on the cheap and then treat staff like slaves.  You're data will never be safe unless there is some trust between staff and management.  Staff will only trust management if they are being adequately compensated.

Even in the government, agencies have to trust some staff, that's what background checks are for.

Frankly, unless you are management at that firm, you should start sending out resumes asap.

Mar 4, 14 4:55 pm

that's insane - although - it's similar to my first office in the early days of the internet when they were mostly just worried about people wasting time online - they had one "official" internet machine in the office, but all you had to do was ask the IT guy when he was around and he gave you internet on your own computer.  I worked in a satellite office of a big corporate firm and our managers didn't care.


and files?  just have employees sign an NDA, with provisions that they're allowed to keep some things they worked on for their own portfolio.  And anything filed for permit is public record anyway - so it would be really bizarre not to allow people to keep at least their own paper copies of drawing sets they worked on - unless it's top secret government work or something...

Mar 4, 14 4:59 pm

Do you work in a chinese LDI office? If so, i feel for you

Mar 4, 14 5:53 pm

the most important question is how the hell are you on archinect now?  im sure they are net nannying your ass!

Mar 4, 14 6:35 pm

 I'd be checking out now.

That is INSANE. I worked for a Chinese design sweatshop and we at least had Internet access (albeit, behind the great firewall). We were also expected to run all software on a Mac Mini and use a mouse with no right click.

I'd hate to see what pieces they have you working with? 

Mar 4, 14 7:51 pm
That's extreme. I've worked at both HDR and Leo Daly (not sure if they qualify as a big time firm, but in terms of number of employees, huge firms), and although they locked a lot of Internet sites, the Internet wasn't completely on lock down. It's really too bad one bad thing can ruin doing research.

I work at a small firm now, I love it. There's only 8 of us (6 that truly provide real architectural services) and we are free to roam any way we'd like. Constantly using Dropbox between home and the office. But were also a tight knit group. I do use the internet to clear my mind. Sometimes it really helps to keep myself sane.
Mar 4, 14 8:33 pm
backbay does email work?

Mar 4, 14 9:51 pm

What is the name of this new James Bond movies? Hahaha! Run while you can. No place merit you to work for them with this level of distrust.

Mar 4, 14 11:00 pm
won and done williams

^^Written by guys and gals dicking around on archinect on the company dime. (Or more likely billing it back to the client.)^^

Get back to you work you slacking whores!

Mar 4, 14 11:08 pm

Ok it's comforting to know that I am sane to think of all these as nuts too... It is said that clients are requesting confidentiality of the projects so if staffs were to break it, the company could be sued.. But i am sure other starchitects does even more high profiles projects that requires more confidentiality? 

@Gruen- nope. Copying into sticks are disabled from the work drive, just not possible to copy at all. 

@backbay- outlook is enabled on our work station. But that's it... and its a common project email... so you can't send lunch/ joke emails around as the whole team members would receive it... To get on internet browsing one has to log out and sign in with a public username. 

The only comforting thing about the office are friendly colleagues and promising projects... i will keep my eyes open for more humane workplaces... Thanks everyone for your input 

Mar 6, 14 9:26 am

ever check to see if your bios is password protected?

ever try to run knoppix?

Mar 6, 14 9:35 am

^^ could you burn stuff onto a DVD? haha

Mar 6, 14 10:41 am

O God, do they wipe your brain every time you leave the office? You might take ideas with you!


...I couldn't imagine how to do my work in this case. I spend so much time looking at product information and putting it right into my drawings - Yeah, I screw off too online, but I'd be very inefficient and just start inventing things that don't really work if I couldn't look at online info. 

Mar 6, 14 2:01 pm
Saint in the City

^ That is my work mode as well -- need a product?  Find it online, study it a bit, make a phone call to the manufacturer, check the building science website, etc.

Plus, sketchup, revit, etc., have the handy button to pull things into the project from online -- kind of wrecks that whole concept as well.  Sounds anti-efficient.

don123 -- sounds like everyone just accepts this strangeness?  No revolts?  Apparently the Sockholm Syndrome works on architectural staffers.

Mar 6, 14 5:58 pm

I would try to find another job. Not because of an oppressive work environment, but because I fail to see how such a company could be productive & profitable in the new normal.

Mar 6, 14 9:44 pm
the orange menace

Well, I now feel totally different about the rules imposed by our IT department... seriously, I'd look for work elsewhere - if only because that sounds batsh!t crazy.

Mar 7, 14 1:05 pm

I would never work somewhere like that. 

Mar 7, 14 10:45 pm

^^until you have no other choice

Mar 7, 14 10:56 pm

^ ++ Saint, Sockholm Syndrome

Mar 7, 14 10:58 pm

Do they support IDP?

Mar 8, 14 9:09 am
Saint in the City

Miles --  my curren_  bosses won'_  le_  us use the "_" on our compu_ers.  

Mar 8, 14 9:49 am

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