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Putting the ‘Twit’ in Twitter

Optimize Blog - October 30, 2009 - 0 comments

Apparently our social networking habits at work are creating a bit of renewed interest.
Some new research suggests that this behaviour is creating strain on the productivity of companies who allow access via their work computers.  You see, when confronted with a PC at work, employees often want to do the stuff they do on their computers at home…
Now, we’re not going to be talking about the pros and cons of Twitter or Facebook here (what you wish to do in your own time is none of our business) but we are interested in where the balance lies between an employer wanting to be understanding of the basic human desire to socially network and the over use of social networking sites when at work?
Many advocates of social networking sites argue that allowing time networking at work actually improves productivity but I’ve not seen any data to back up this claim in respect of on-line sites.
On the other hand IT services group Morse, who commissioned this recent research, said that such online behaviour clearly had a “productivity strain” on firms.
The survey questioned 1,460 office workers.  Over half of those surveyed admitted using social networking sites during the working day for personal use. On average those people spent 40 minutes per week on these sites.
My question is ‘how much of this is time that people now no longer spend chatting with colleagues or is this actually incremental time?’  If they weren’t on the social networking sites would they be reading the hockey game reports?  Perhaps they might even be gazing out of the window to the office block opposite.
To really understand the impact, I guess we really need some context around the statistics…
It’s clearly up to each firm to decide the impact of allowing such activity and I’m not sure yet that policies and procedures around such use have kept pace with the explosion of sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Certainly there have been instances of bullying colleagues, sensitive company information discussed openly on these sites and even employees losing their jobs over posted content.
The issue is further confused by many large corporates who are now actually setting up and running their own social networking site pages to encourage collaboration and communication amongst their employees.
Perhaps the jury is still out.  Is it now an acceptable working practice as an aid to employee retention or should all non-work related PC activity be removed from the workplace?  If one extrapolates this Morse research out to the working population at large then the cost of this ‘inducement’ is significant but perhaps this is becoming just another cost of doing business.
Anyway here at Zeitgeist we enjoy networking with our readers and we’ll stay connected,  provided that we can think of something to say…
Just to add further fuel to the debate, take a look at this recent article from the BBC…
“Facebook has once again been targeted by cybercriminals.  Security firm Websense has reported thousands of fake messages, purporting to come from Facebook Support, with a malicious payload.
The fake message invites users to download a new password as part of ongoing security messages.   If users click on it will download a piece of software which could allow their machine to be taken over by malicious hackers.  In one day, Websense has seen 90,000 such messages”. From BBC today.
I guess that puts another spin on the risks of allowing social networking sites to be accessible at work?

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