secret things inside officeLife inside an office firewall can be very restrictive for some employees.

You are not allowed to check your personal email accounts, tons of websites are banned (loss of worker productivity), you cannot store music on your Office computer (because people think all MP3s are illegal), there are no permissions to install new software, YouTube videos are prohibited and almost all Instant Messaging software are blocked.

There are two options here – either you stick to the official rule book (and stay safe) or if you are adventurous and willing to take risks, read the following guide that shows how to do everything inside Office that you otherwise thought was impossible.

Watch YouTube videos at Work: Your friend has sent you a link to some funny YouTube video clip but you cannot watch it inside office since YouTube is banned. The easy workaround is vixy.net – just copy-paste the YouTube URL and you can save the video locally as an AVI file. Vixy will also allow you save YouTube videos as MP3 files. A similar service that you may also bookmark is zamzar.com/url.

fe-2 Instant Messaging inside Office: IM software, like Yahoo! Messenger or Google Talk, are probably the worst nightmare of any IT department and therefore they are blocked in most workplaces.

If you are finding it extremely tough to stay out-of-touch with your IM buddies during Office hours, try meebo.com – it requires no installation and runs inside your web browser. Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger also provide web based version of their IM software. [Meebo review]

Read Your Favorite Blogs: If you are working in a BPO or financial services company that has imposed a blanket ban on all websites citing security reasons, you can still keep in touch with your favorite blogs through email. Services like SendMeRSS (of NBC Universal) or FeedBlitz will send you RSS feeds straight in your email Inbox – the moment there’s a new blog post, you can read it just like any other email message.

When a Web page is Inaccessible: This is another common problem – the email message contains a link to some article on a website (say Forbes.com) but you cannot read the full story as access to that website is restricted at work. No worries as you can still read that article through email:

Just send an email addressed to www@web2mail.com with the URL of the web page in the Subject field (e.g. www.cnn.com) and you’ll soon find a copy of that web page in your Inbox. A similar service is provided by www4mail@wm.ictp.trieste.it – it will also fetch websites for you through email though in this case, the site address should go in the body of the email message. [Useful email addresses]

Related: Access Blocked Websites at Work

fe-1While Surfing the Web, Pretend That You Are Working: It can be a bit embarrassing when you are surfing some non-work related websites at work and the boss walks-in. You try to minimize the browser or hide it behind Microsoft Outlook but the sudden panic makes everything clearer.

What you really need here is WorkFriendly – it’s actually a wrapper website that make your web browser look like Microsoft Word.

The web pages inside Work Friendly look as if you are reading a Word document. And there’s a wonderful Boss Key that replaces the web page with a proper Word document in a click – handy when you hear the footsteps of your boss.

Related: Check Email When Gmail is Blocked

Listen to Music Stored on Home Computer: You have an excellent music collection on the home computer that you would love to listen at work – the simple option is to burn your home MP3 on a DVD or if that sounds lot of effort, try Leaf at leafnetworks.net – it’s a free no-geeky solution to help you access files on the home computer from any other computer.

The only requirement for Leaf Networks is that the source machine (your home computer) should be up and connected to the internet. An alternate solution is SimplifyMedia that works with iTunes and will also maintain the music playlists across computers.

Related: Play MP3 Stored on your Home Computer at Work

Important: While all the above tricks and workarounds will bring more joy to your life inside the Office firewalls, make sure you know how to deal with the associated risks and fallouts.

Links: SimplifyMedia, Leaf Networks, WorkFriendly, Meebo, Vixy, SendMeRSS, Picture