In a recent report, it was estimated that workers spent an average of 7.5 hours during the week on social media…and that was just time spent during the work day.
7.5 hours is a full work day, which means that employers are losing out on 1.5 hours a day of productivity from their employees.
The most popular times for checking out social networks at work were between 10-11 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.
“Particularly for those with office-based jobs, it’s not difficult to see why they might get tempted to access their social network profiles when they should be working. Especially with the introduction of things like Tweet Deck and Facebook’s push notifications, it’s actually harder than ever to switch off,” said George Charles, marketing director at VoucherCodesPro.
Recent trends show that more than half of US employers are blocking social media access at the workplace. A variety of fears have led to this, led by certainty that time spent on Facebook or Twitter is productivity the company can never get back.
By implementing a complete block of social media, leaders and managers are able to rest easy, secure in the knowledge that their employees are spending their time doing the work for which they’re being paid, right?
Nothing could be farther 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.
The Futility of Blocking
Do you have a smart phone? An iPhone, an Android, or any of the dozens of other models available? You can surf the Web, access social networks, send and receive messages on Twitter and engage in all kinds of other online activities. So can your employees.
Blocking access to social sites via your company networks won’t stop most employees from engaging in the same behavior the blocks were designed to prevent. It is often counterproductive, with the time employees spend finding a way to the sites they want to visit being more time-consuming than actually visiting the sites.
Productivity Trends Tell the Story
If worker productivity is at an all-time low, why do US Department of Labor statistics paint a different picture in which productivity continues to rise?
The answer is simple. Productivity is not a measure of the time employees spend at work engaged in non-work activities. It’s a measure of output. And the use of social media can actually help increase employee output.
A study conducted at the University of Melbourne found that employees with access to social networks were actually more productive than employees in companies that block access. According to Dr. Brent Coker, employees who can reward themselves between the completion of one task and the start of another with a visit to their Facebook page are more invigorated and get more done. According to the study, they get 9 percent more accomplished than their blocked counterparts.
Getting to the Crux of the Matter
There will always be employees who waste time. There always have been, long before computers were introduced to the workplace. Addressing this problem is a management issue, not a technological one.
There’s more to the productivity issue, though. Among workers, the fact that they are networked means they can work anywhere. Think about it. Do you check your email on your mobile phone as soon as you get up? That’s a work-related activity at home. Employees review reports while at their kids’ soccer games. They take overseas calls after dinner. They draft reports before bed.
How many of your employees arrive at 9 and leave at 5? An employee who arrives at 7:30 a.m. and leaves at 6:30 p.m. can spend two hours on Facebook and still put in a solid eight hours of work — plus the time they spend working when they’re away from the office.
It’s also worth remembering that the same productivity paranoia was raised over the telephone and email.
Blocking social media is now considered quite an antiquated idea. The crux of the matter comes down to whether you’ve hired good employees or not. If you have a hardworking employee, they are going to work hard for you. If you’ve hired a time-waster, then they will waste time no matter if social media is available or not.