Systems Administrators: Are you plagued by a tech-savvy workforce?

It used to be that systems administrators expressed their frustration over tech novices by recounting tales of users asking about the cup holder on their desktop- you know, the CD drive. Admins didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The work force barely knew how to turn the computer on, or plug in a mouse let alone install applications, manage email, or burn CDs.

For the most part those days are gone, aren’t they? You can no longer pat a worker on the head, use some tech jargon to explain why they can’t do what they want and go away. Today that worker will go find a way to do it – himself. Corporate policies that say certain software isn’t supported or not recommended won’t stop them from installing it. The fear, or intimidation, factor is gone.

Now, sys admins spend more time fixing and remedying solutions that users employed to circumvent corporate or internal IT regulations. Whether it is sharing corporate information over personal emails and social networking sites, or installing dubious applications, the truth is much of the control IT admins had (because users didn’t know how to do things) has disappeared.

So what is a sys admin to do? Many corporations take the lockout approach – they lock out any Internet sites that aren’t approved, they limit or set up email monitoring, and prevent users from installing any applications not on the corporate image. What should make administration easier makes employees unhappy and opens a slew of other IT support problems.

In most respects having a tech-savvy workforce benefits the company. Providing them access to the tools they need to do their job (Internet included) makes for happy employees. But just because a user can do something doesn’t mean they should. Educating workers on policies and the reasons for the policies goes a long way towards taming their enthusiasm to find work-arounds.

So what do you think? Is today’s workforce easier to administer than the “good ol’ days”? Share your comments (or horror stories) here, and finally be heard.