More Fuel for the Social-Media-At-Work Debate

    October 31, 2008
    Chris Crum

Not long after we discussed the stats, pros, cons, and variables for social media use in the workplace, here at WebProNews, UK firm Demos has been talking about a study that suggests that social media is in fact good for businesses. I’m still sticking with the "it depends on a number of variables" theory, but the Demos info is worth taking a look at either way. BBC News reports:

Firms are increasingly using networking software to share documents and collaborate in ideas, the research found.

And while more work-specific systems, such as LinkedIn or bespoke in-house software tended to be used for work matters, the likes of Facebook, Bebo and MySpace still had a place, said Peter Bradwell, a Demos researcher and the report’s author.

Demos says that when companies restrict access to social networks, it could have a long-term negative impact, because communication methods are limited. "They are part of the way in which people communicate which they find intuitive," says Bradwell. "Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships."

Demos basically takes the position that employees who abuse their social network privileges should be under stricter watch. Productivity has of course been one of the biggest concerns regarding social media in the workplace, but according to Demos, it could actually have the opposite effect. Bradwell noted that it can build closer links with ex-employees and customers to boost productivity.

When it comes down to it, this is an issue that will continue to be debated, mostly because there’s no concrete way to measure the productivity (or lack thereof) against whether or not the time used would be better spent doing something else. There’s no doubt that there are plenty of potential benefits for businesses using social media, but bosses are going to have a hard time being convinced without seeing concrete results.