Access Denied

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Do you work for a company that won’t allow you access to your favorite (or any) social media site? Have you wondered why? Is it because they are concerned that you are using up too much bandwidth and will crash the servers looking at YouTube cat clips. Maybe they are concerned that you will be updating your Facebook page instead of getting those reports out on time. Well, if you work at one of these places you are not alone. According to this article, recent trends show that more than half of US employers are blocking social media access at the workplace. And, while employers may be thinking that blocking social media will lead to greater productivity, nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is…

  • Blocking social media access is a costly exercise that simply doesn’t work.
  • Employee use of social media in the workplace doesn’t necessarily adversely affect productivity.
  • 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. Those that don’t will be left behind.

Anyone with a iPhone, Galaxy or any other smartphone already has access to the web and so can engage in all sorts of social media activity. If employers are concerned about social media becoming a time waster than they are worrying about the wrong thing. The problem isn’t social media, the problem is integrity. Long before social media was an option, less dedicated workers found plenty of other ways to waste time.  From coming in late, leaving early, talking on the phone, hanging by the watercooler or like Peter Gibbons, the white-collar slacker of the 1999 film Office Space said, “I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I’m working.”

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Productivity is not a measure of the time employees spend at work engaged in work or non-work activities. It’s a measure of output.  The question isn’t whether someone is spending time watching YouTube videos at work. The question is whether their work is getting done, on time and to the quality standards expected of them.  If output is falling then yes, there’s a problem. But to conveniently blame it on social media would be an easy way out.  Companies that fear social media clearly are not only missing the boat they’re missing  opportunities.

One more thing, how many of us have company issued smartphones? And how many are checking or responding to texts and emails before and after the traditional work day or on the weekends? If companies measure or even estimate lost performance by the number of hours employees might be spending on their Facebook page during nine to five, then they need to consider all of those extra hours that employees spend doing work when they are not in the office.

Wake up corporate America and smell the data burning. There’s a brave new world out there that isn’t just for fun. There’s a huge customer base with a chance to engage like never before. And yes, there’s time for this too:

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