Blog: Blocking social- Is it worth the trouble?


Blocking social- Is it worth the trouble?

Does blocking social media in office make a difference in employee productivity?
Blocking social- Is it worth the trouble?

Does your office allow the use of Facebook, Gmail, Youtube, Myspace and all other things social during office hours? Reading an article on the US workforce, it said that half the US employers were blocking social media access at the workplace. A variety of fears led to the restriction, led by certainty that time spent on Facebook or Twitter is lost productivity which the company can never get back. By implementing a complete block of social media, leaders and managers are able to rest easy, secure in the knowledge that their employees are spending their time doing the work for which they’re being paid.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Blocking social media access is a costly exercise that simply doesn’t work. Do you have a smart phone? An iPhone, a BlackBerry, a Droid, a Palm Pre or any of the dozens of other models available? You can surf the Web, access social networks, send and receive messages on Twitter and engage in all kinds of other online activities. So can your employees.

Employee use of social media in the workplace doesn’t necessarily adversely affect productivity. Those that don’t will be left behind. There are distinct advantages to allowing -- and even encouraging -- employees to use social media sites while at work. The future of business is a networked future. Employers who figure out the right balance will be more competitive. However, there are a number of disadvantages to blocking access:

Morale: Morale is a huge aspect of business, but few owners and managers seem to understand. A big chuck of the workforce is the younger end Generation Y. This is the networked, updated and on the move generation which has grown up with social media. For them, working with the ‘cool’ companies is a great motivator. Take the example of Google as a company. They have a very open and innovative environment which is a great driver of creativity. And when the employees actually enjoy working for a company, they do their best work. Low morale among the workers breeds contempt, and contempt breeds disloyalty. Disloyalty, as a result, breeds attrition.

Collaboration: Social networking facilitates collaboration internally, but it also lets users collaborate with the entire world. There are companies which are building their own internal social media platforms to boost collaboration across their different multinational offices as well. Grassroots implemented a platform called Bubble for our employees globally. As they were present in 16 different countries with varied time zones, interaction was limited. The Bubble acted as an open user blog where conversations could be continued across the time gap. Soon, it was followed up with Buzz, a global online recognition program.  So, be it internal or external collaboration, social media is a great place. Also a number of external collaborations might be customers as well.

Skill building: Companies and its employees need to know how to use social networking effectively. Why? Because our society is on a collision course with an even further embedding of social media into our lives. And as an era, this generation is at the forefront of this trend. Employees are using social networking to market and sell products. If we look at the trend of most companies engaging digital agencies to maintain their social presence across all platforms, even managers in the company need to competent and media savvy to be able to judge the external services. Allowing them to use it on a daily basis will ensure that they're social media savvy, with little need for training.

Free Advertising: Social networking brings to businesses a boon of free advertising. You can't afford not to hop onto this bandwagon. And getting on board early shows the public that you are an agile, aware company. Allowing your employees to take advantage of social networking also shows you care about them. In this society, caring goes a long way. All of that makes for some seriously powerful advertising. Taking the example of our company, our five year celebration was a fun filled activity with the company trying to make every employee feel special. Most of the employees went online putting up pictures of the souvenirs they received. Be it the chocolates, the customized employee mugs, or the other food goodies. It was great publicity and free advertising for the company. 

Productivity is not a measure of time employees spend at work engaged in non-work activities. It’s a measure of output. And the use of social media can actually help increase employee output. The question isn’t whether someone is spending time watching YouTube videos at work. The question is whether they’re work is getting done, on time and to the quality standards expected of them.

A study conducted at the University of Melbourne found that employees with access to social networks were actually more productive than employees in companies that block access. According to Dr. Brent Coker, employees who can reward themselves between the completion of one task and the start of another with a visit to their Facebook or MySpace page are more invigorated and get more done. According to the study, they get 9 percent more accomplished than their blocked counterparts.

The bottom line is that there will always be employees who waste time. There always have been, long before computers were introduced to the workplace. Addressing this problem is a management issue, not a technological one. It is for a company to weigh the pros and cons judicially rather than a blanket banning approach. 


Read full story

Topics: Culture, Employee Engagement, Benefits & Rewards

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?