Social Media and Your Office: Friends or Foes?

Filed in Social Media 101 by on January 12, 2010 0 Comments

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A lot of speculation has arisen lately about social media’s place in the office.  Some say that social media access should be unrestricted because workers feel more comfortable.  If employees know they can tweet and stay connected through Facebook all day, they’ll feel at home and productivity will increase.  Others say all social media access while on the clock should be eliminated.  If employees are given access, they will do nothing but surf the Internet all day.  So, which one is the perfect solution?

Neither.

The pros and cons of both arguments point to one goal – creating a highly effective work environment.  Therefore, there is not one correct method that must be followed.  Each business is different.  What works for corporation ABC most likely will not work for non-profit XYZ.

To help decide what policy would best suite your organization, there are a few consideration points below.

Beware – these questions will not lead you in one direction or the other.  You must decide what is best for your organization.  The overall goal of any company is to be effective.  Whatever your company needs to do to achieve its goals is the direction it should go.

  • Do you have any current office policies that might tackle the issue of social media in the workplace?  How do those policies impact productivity? If your office already has pre-existing rules or directions for social media in the workplace, consider analyzing their effectiveness on morale and productivity.  Do employees simply tweet or access Facebook from their mobile devices instead of a browser?  Would access to social networking sites reduce time on cell phones and iPods?  Does restricting Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, aide or hamper productivity?
  • What messages do you want to send to your employees?Restricting access to social networking doesn’t mean you are a horrible boss but your direct reports might think so.  Have you made it clear to your employees why social media sites are or are not blocked?  Mutual understanding is critical for a productive and creative work environment.
  • Do you have performance metrics or standards in place?Solid performance goals and expectations that are enforced will keep your employees on track, with or without social media sites.  Ensure that your employees are aware of your expectations.
  • What can you learn from the past? Oftentimes, similar situations have occurred in the past.  Remember the YouTube craze?  Did your employees watch videos all day or did they do their work?  What was the final outcome with fantasy sports websites?  Most of the time you will find that a past decision or situation can lead you in the proper direction.

There is no right or wrong answer for social media in the workplace.  Social media can prove to be an aide in some offices and a burden in others.  Reflect on the past, analyze your work staff and their performance, and decide what is best.

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Eric-Alpin-Photo
Eric Alpin is the Associate Editor of Folk Media and works for a telecommunications company in Baltimore, Md. He is a social media enthusiast, blogger, writer, and student with a passion for leadership and self-development strategies and techniques. Find out more about Eric on Twitter.

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*Photo by: ydhsu

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