Social Networking: the Productivity Booster

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social enviroment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions – Albert Einstein

L

et’s start the New Year!

In this article, I’d like to give us an insight into using of social networking sites (SNS) in the workplace.

First of all, there’s plenty of similar article out there; so why? Because there’s also plenty of managers and entrepreneurs (out there) who continue to think that the use of social networking, or web surfing in general, during work-hours is a distraction, decrease productivity and potentially damage the company itself (sometimes it’s a good intuition but it’s not always the real world).

Here are some insights into this viewpoint (the not-so-good feeling).

Jackson Lewis LLP, an employment law firm, conducted a survey (we can find the findings here) of more than 100 employers in the New York metropolitan area to gather information about how social networking has affected relationships between bosses and staff. The study found that 56 percent of employers monitored employee’s use of the Internet during office hours. Thirty-eight percent blocked employees from social networking sites, and 6 percent of these employers fired employees for using social networking sites while on the clock.

Social Media Control

Social Media Control

Employers are checking up on what potential and current employees are saying about them on SNS. Twelve percent of employers checked out potential employees’ online profile before offering them a job. The same survey found that 16 percent of these employers monitored social networking sites to see what current and former employees were saying about them.

Of course, we should always be careful about what we say about our employer online.

For example, 13 members of Virgin Atlantic airlines were fired for sharing not-so-flattering remarks about their employer on Facebook (we can find the article here).

Another example, a teacher in Charlotte was suspended for comments he posted on Facebook about his students (we can find the evidence here).

Social Media Phishing

Social Media Phishing

Cyber security firm Sophos stated, in their Security Threat Report: 2010, that reports of phishing, malware, and spam have increased as a result of increased use of social networks in the workplace.

Another survey of 200 human resources managers found that one in three employers think social networking decrease productivity, and 25 percent block all access to social networking sites.

 

Is all this monitoring really necessary, and, more importantly, is it worth the expense? Companies spend millions of dollars on software designed to block social networking sites. But several studies have shown that personal Web browsing can increase productivity and thus increase profits.

Here are some insights into this other viewpoint.


 

Participants in a 2008 symposium conducted at Temple University in Philadelphia allowed that social media can help business people make connections more quickly, thus improving productivity.

Social Media increases collaboration

Social Media increases collaboration

A University of Melbourne study in Australia credits SNS with increasing productivity on the job by as much as 9 percent. This study looked at 300 workers. Researchers found that personal Web browsing sharpened an employee’s concentration. According to the study, by taking short breaks, your mind can rest a while, and when you return to the task at hand, your brain will be refreshed and renewed. However, the study only researched those who used these sites in moderation, or less than 20 percent of their total time at work.

Another study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (we can check the report here) found that employees with the largest social networks were 7 percent more productive than those with fewer friends.

Another study conducted by AT&T (we can check the report here) also found that the use of social networking tools increased efficiency. The company, which sells Internet connection services, conducted an independent study that survey 2,500 employees in five European countries. Of the employees using social networking sites:

  • Social Media changes business

    Social Media changes business

    Sixty-five percent said social networking made their colleagues and themselves more efficient workers.

  • Forty-six percent found that it gave them more ideas and made them more creative.
  • Thirty-eight percent found that social networking helped them to gain knowledge and come up with solutions to problems.
  • Thirty-six percent reported that social networking allowed them to collect knowledge about employees and customers.
  • Thirty-two percent asserted that sites created team building opportunities.

Employees also reported that social networking has become part of the culture of their workplace.

 

Of course it’s all a matter of moderation and a bit of good sense; if an employee surfs on internet all the time, it’s obvious that he/she won’t reach his/her objectives, as well as, if a manager uses his/her connections to share company’s info must be aware of possible fishing and data stealing.

Finally, I think that the use of social networks is important to employees and plays a crucial role in their lives and should not be banned at the workplace completely. What is important is to specify how such use may be allowable in the workplace. Employee-employer communications are essential to clarify issues such as how much time may be spent online and that company information should not be revealed, knowingly or unknowingly.
 

I’m an enthusiastic and highly motivated PMP and Prince2 (Foundation) Senior Program Manager with 16+ years experience in the Healthcare industry. I often work in highly pressurized and challenging environments, managing a large-scale software development program up to an order value of €6M. I’m extremely professional in approach and behaviour, adaptable to change, very meticulous, collaborative, energetic, resilient, innovative, proactive and pragmatic. I’m passionate about process improvement, technology innovation, knowledge sharing techniques and how businesses can capitalize on social media integration. My greatest strength is helping to focus my organization’s efforts on the activities necessary to achieve strategic goals and objectives in order to consistently meet both the customer’s and business’ needs; on time and under budget.

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