I don't buy all this "allowing Facebook access at work increases productivity" nonsense

Remember before all this online technology shenanigans when we just turned up to work - to work? Did we insist that we had access to Pac Man, Pong or Space Invaders, or any of the other trivial pursuits you care to name, during working hours? Of course not. Then, when the good old 'Messenger' came along - Yahoo, AOL etc. - and enabled us to chat with strangers at our will - did we insist that our new distraction of choice be installed on our PCs in the office? No. So why, pray tell, is there such a big beef about whether people should be able to access Facebook during their employers time?

OK, I get that some people's jobs demand it, but not everyone's job! It's not a given that when you go to work you should be able to access social networks at your will. And why should it be? I mean, hands up, who can honestly say they have Facebook and/or twitter on tap at work during the day and as a result are MORE productive? How? Take a look around you - on a train or a bus, in the street or a bar. People, hundreds and thousands of them tapping away furiously on their mobiles or laptops. "I've just got this badge" "I've overthrown Joe Schmoe as Mayor of Nowhereseville" "I'll be late home for dnner dear" etc. etc.  That's perfectly OK - in their own time but, give many of those people the same option in work time and surely, as much as some will argue it's down to people's own initiative, conscience and sense of duty to their colleagues to restrict the time they spend on social networks in the office, some of those same people will, through no fault of their own other than the fact that they can, end up spending far too much time doing stuff they shouldn't be doing as part of their job.

I challenge anyone to convince me that that is not the case. Indeed, I'm sure many of you reading this secretly know you delve into the depths of Facebook and/or twitter just a bit too much sometimes and that it does have some effect on your overall level of focus and productivity. The trouble is, like with any potential addiction, the potential addict is the last person to tell themselves there is an issue.

I've seen and heard of people in a work environment abusing their online access. Grocery shopping, chating with friends, browsing sports bulletin boards - the list is endless. It's also, I believe, in the majority of instances an unnecessary temptation. Never mind the employer employee stuff and making it a friendlier environment where people care and share. Human beings are crafty. Some also get obsessed and cannot help themselves. I say ban it unless you can justify it! (dons hard hat and awaits incoming)

Views: 574

Comment by Alasdair Murray on April 12, 2012 at 1:21pm

Thanks for the comment, in my experience, like yours, I've seen people waste a load of time, if not online shopping then chatting with friends for ages or disappearing for extraordinary lengths of time with no real explanation. Being able to access Facebook et al is simply not a necessity in so many jobs so why put the temptation there in the first place? With the best will in the world, some people will unknowingly become obsessed by their ability to access it whenever they want. It's guaranteed. I've seen it happen with chat sites and forums etc.

Comment by Tom Polak on April 13, 2012 at 9:09am

I agree that very few can be productive if they end up on FB during their workday, I would certainly be that NON-productive person if I accessed Facebook during working hours! However, I think the best use of access to social media is for those outstanding multi-taskers that are brilliant and use social media to unplug during their productive day. I specifically know 2 people that do this and still outperform their peers and have even won company awards for their outstanding performance. Even the other brilliant people in the company cannot understand why these 2 people are on Facebook all day long but continue to outperform. When I asked these 2 people how they do it, they both agreed that they would not be as productive if they could not "unplug" on Facebook throughout the day. But agreeably, even the above average "Joe" or "Mary" cannot usually balance outstanding productivity with effective downtime.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on April 13, 2012 at 10:42am

Where's the "trust" factor, though? You should have faith and trust your workers that they won't abuse. There's a posting out about a company that offers unlimited vacation and the workers get to book their own time. Again, because the firm trusts them - the employees don't abuse it. 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 13, 2012 at 1:37pm
I more than agree sir that social media access at work is silly. Let's suppose for a minute that instead of being plugged in to an Internet site at their work station you walked into an office and several people were sitting at their desks reading a novel or a comic book and they did it throughout the day.

How long does anybody think it would be before the announcement was made that those who wanted to read a book or work the crossword puzzle in the paper should do so on their own time. Personal phone time abuse has been an office problem since Alexander Graham Bell why is reading or talking on the net some sort of exception.

Yes, I have done it myself. Check in on RBC get hooked in to a conversation, look up and I have wasted an hour of productive time. The only difference is I know it just cost me money. Would I pay somebody a salary to blow productive time on the net? nope, I would put them on commission and see how long it took them to figure out the cost of social media or reading a book.
Comment by Eric Smith on April 13, 2012 at 1:46pm

This is an employee issue – not a FB issue. Good employees perform; bad ones don’t.

The notion that FB & Twitter are sites that are so intoxicating-- that even normally productive employees (as you stated “through no fault of their own”) are powerless to their seduction-- is a bit off. If it’s not FB—it would be the internet. If it wasn’t the internet, it would be email, the phone, the person next to them, the vending machine—unproductive employees find reasons to be unproductive. The answer is not to remove these sites from everyone, including your most productive employees, who can check FB a few minutes a day, but still can still knock the socks off of a key customer. At the end of the day, it’s about accountability. Great employees are accountable, no matter what. Great employees thrive when they are trusted.  Great employees work from home—yet still deliver.

And this is the entire premise of this blog: To recruit and hire great people. Hiring right – takes care of 90% of all these kind of issues.

And once a person is hired, a lot should be expected from them. If an employer is worried about an employee checking FB too much, then the employer is probably not expecting enough and holding them accountable for those expectations. Great employees just make it happen.

Comment by stephenbooth.uk on April 16, 2012 at 3:10am

There are issues with blocking social media access at work, but they're not so much to do with the actual social media itself.  A lot of non-social media sites are now using social media sites for authentication either directly (i.e. the site picks up your Facebook or Twitter cookie and picks up your account details for things like user picture) or indirectly (i.e. uses an intermediary service like OpenID or Discus).  Many times I've found myself unable to use a site which is relevant to my work because they use Facebook or Discus to provide user authentication.

Another problem is that often the companies that provide the block lists are rather broad in their definition of what constitutes social media.  Frequently they will classify non-social media sites as social media, in some cases apparently because the site name or URL contains the word 'social', so work relevant sites can be blocked that way.  One example of this is the Microsoft support site.

Comment by Jerry Albright on April 16, 2012 at 8:46am

Alasdair - you are stuck in the 20th Century! 

Employees MUST be on social media.  It's how they help promote culture and share content with all the hopeful future employees in the company Talent Community.

Rather than do their job ALL DAY (again - how old school can you be?) - employees should have free time throughout the day to talk about how great it is to work there, share the fun projects they're working on, do video interviews for the career page and so on.

Get hip man.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on April 16, 2012 at 8:52am

A colleague once called me a 'stakhanovite'. I had to look up the meaning but ever since I have been unable to come to terms with the notion that I would actually be MORE productive if I spent my time at work staring at/messing about on Facebook and Twitter all day. If they could pipe Abe's Odyssey into my PC as well I would doubtless be even more contented with my lot. You're right though, I clearly am old fashioned! Silly me and my notion that people should turn up to work, not waste time.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 17, 2012 at 2:34am
Oh just wait, in another year or two employee assistance programs will include rehab to recover from social media addiction. Insurance policies will have specific coverage guidelines as to what is covered when people walk into walls or traffic or fall downstairs while texting. People will evolve into strangely dressed creatures who have predator eyes , permanently crossed from being focused on movies shown on a 3 1/2 screen and they will develop large prehensile thumbs that vibrate in anticipation of the next message from someone they have never met ,written in a strang language with no grammar or spelling requirements.
Comment by Craig Watson on April 19, 2012 at 8:12am

Have to disagree with the majority here... I was recently at a recruiting conference where statisitcs showed that 60% and growing were finding their next role via Social Media - fb, twitter etc.  If you work in recruitment/staffing and you're not using it daily you will fall behind... For those of us over 40 who really thought emails, or even mobile phones would become essential tools of trade... well for recruitment I'm afraid social media is the brave new world....

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