Social Networks Don’t Waste Time, People Do.

    November 10, 2009
    Chris Crum

Social Media policies of well-known organizations often appear in the news with commentary throughout the Blogosphere, the Twitterverse, etc. There is an ongoing debate about just how restricted social networks should be when it comes to employee use.

Where do you stand on this debate? Share your thoughts.

, based in the UK, has released some research finding that 90% of IT Managers surveyed believe access to social networking site should be banned or restricted. 90%. That’s a lot. The managers surveyed came from across the UK public sector as well as private organizations.

The concerns addressed in this survey were the usual suspects: staff productivity, network security risks, and damage to the corporate reputation. Productivity was by far the top concern.

Is productivity your top concern with employee social network use? Discuss here.

Bloxx - Social Networking

Bloxx - Social Networking

The research found that not only are an increasing number of organizations completely banning staff access from social networking sites, but it is also quite common for staff to post disparaging remarks regarding other employees, their boss, or the company on social networks.

Over 22% of respondents don’t have any controls in place for staff accessing social networks. 35% of IT managers believe staff are spending over 30 minutes each per day on average accessing social networks. The companies are potentially providing an additional 16 days paid vacation for each employee, Bloxx says. Still, the research also shows that social networking is increasingly being used as a valuable business tool. Obviously access is required to take advantage.

"UK businesses really can’t afford to underestimate some of the risks of Social Networking use in the workplace," says Bloxx CEO Eamonn Doyle. "However, our view is that a complete ban is unrealistic and adopting this approach means that companies can’t obtain the potential business benefits of Social Networking and can alienate staff." Among Doyle’s suggestions are increased employee education, "well-thought-out" acceptable use policies, and the use of Web filtering. 

There are plenty of reasons why social network access shouldn’t be completely banned. We cover these reasons about every day. If  your company completely ignores social networks, you’re ignoring a tremendous amount of opportunities for marketing, customer service, traffic, sales, communication, etc.

Social networks are not going away. The popularity of specific ones may change in time, but the concept of social networking is going nowhere. It’s not even a new concept. Forums and email are pretty much social media for all intents and purposes. Social networks have recently been blamed for $2.25 billion in lost productivity. I wonder how much money lost productivity from personal email and general web surfing accounts for. I wonder how much employees simply talking to each other at the workplace has cost companies. That’s not necessarily online, but it’s still socializing. How have you handled email and general web use in the past?

Reputation issues are one thing. Security is another (and I think employee education plays a big role there) but as far as productivity, I really don’t see that the use of social networks is really that different than any other form of simply not working. People can spend their time using the phone for personal calls, but you probably haven’t completely banned the telephone. You may need that to communicate with customers, drive sales, etc. I’m sure you see my point.

Are social networks really the time wasters or is it just the people finding new ways to waste time? Share your thoughts here.

Related Articles:

Social Networks Blamed For $2.25B In Lost Productivity

How SHOULD Employees Use Social Media?

Some Brands Have Good Ideas For Social Media. Do You?