Could Facebook and Twitter use hurt your organization’s productivity? Does your organization block these Social Media sites to keep this from happening? It seems that over half of all U.S. companies block these sites according to a recent DigitalMediaWire article. That’s not to say that an organization may be using an official Twitter or Facebook account, but they are blocking these sites for personal use during business hours. Some of these companies may have other valid reasons for blocking these sites, but there does appear to be a belief that filtering certain sites on the Internet will keep productivity high among employees. As a matter of fact, I was recently asked to play an advisory role for a large Fortune 500 company in Houston as they decided this very topic. I’ll tell you what they decided at the end of this article.
So does Social Media use actually hurt productivity? In the last 6 months I’ve read several articles and studies that say that the opposite is true, allowing time for staff to check their personal Twitter or Facebook account may actually increase productivity. This may seem counter intuitive, but keep this in mind; when the telephone and email were introduced to the work place, many people thought that productivity would surely decrease. A few years ago, Dr. Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne did a study and found that, “people who do use the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t.” This raises a point worth mentioning here; a responsible Social Media/Internet use policy should be in place to set reasonable boundaries, not only for time limits, but on what sites are viewed and how these sites are used. So a reasonable amount of time on the Internet, though it may temporarily take time away from work tasks, may actually help with the quantity and quality of work.
Productivity isn’t measure of how much time a person is working on a task, but how much of the task gets accomplished in a given amount of time. If a lumber jack doesn’t take time to “sharpen his axe”, he can keep swinging all he wants, but as his axe dulls, he will see less fallen trees. The person who takes time to keep his axe sharp will always out produce his well meaning lumberjack companion. In the same way productivity studies show that humans have a limited capacity to concentrate on a task before the quality and the quantity of their work is diminished.
It is my belief that people who waste time are going to regardless of Internet filters or policies. If a filter doesn’t allow Facebook or Twitter, a person can simply reach for their trusty smart phone and waste the day away. A filter or a policy can never take the place of solid management and/or a hard working employee. So should all companies open up Social Media for personal use during business hours? No. Some companies have many other valid reasons for blocking the use of Social Media or even the entire Internet while at work. The company I advised is in the process of finalizing their new Social Media and Internet use policy, but plans on opening Social Media sites up for personal use during business hours to the majority of its employees. They see this as a way to continue to attract great employees, and to keep its workforce happier and in turn more productive. Sure there were and are naysayers, but it appears that this is the way of the future. After all, email and the phone seem to be heading out the door in place of more interactive and connected Social Media communication tools.
Written by: Doran Woods
Are you using Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube) to connect with others as well as to get your message out? People have many differing views on Social Media; some ignore it, some dislike it, others embrace it while still others can become addicted to it. Heres the reality: whether we use it or not, many of our family members, friends, church members and customers do. They not only use Social Media, but their day to day lives are heavily influenced by it.
We shouldn’t think of Social Media as a replacement to our normal avenues of communication (though this is a topic we will discuss in the future). Think of it rather as an enhancement to what we are already doing. It is about relationships. It allows us to connect to people in our community and beyond with very little effort and typically zero financial obligation.
Many companies, churches, and small businesses are embracing Social Media, allowing them to get their message out without having to rely solely on traditional and usually very expensive means of mass communicating, ala TV commercials, newspaper ads, billboards, etc.
One-on-one contact has always been one of the most successful ways of getting our messages out, but typically communicating in this manner is very slow. Now with Social Media, a small post or quick video about an event, sermon series, mission opportunity can reach hundreds or even millions in minutes. Communicating via Social Media can be very personal as well, for instance, 1 and 5 married couples today meet online through Social Media. Think today how you might better serve your members by harnessing the power of Social Media.
Written by: Doran Woods