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Study proves Social media in the workplace not a productivity killer | Web Security

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Wed, Jun 5th, 2013

Much has been written about how to keep employees off social media sites during work times that researchers are starting to study the null argument. Namely, could using social media at work actually be beneficial? In a recent study published in the Information Systems Journal, the answer is yes!.

Any manager who thinks staff should be banned from using social media at work is seriously misguided, such a draconian policy could be very damaging to the business. The Warwick study has shown that social media can actually make staff more productive and employers must  learn to deal with that new reality. This is not something radically new, it's plain logic that having a little distraction in between work is good for the body and the brain.

Social media as a diversion is beneficial

The study was investigative rather than a statistical study. ‘It was very obvious that social media allows people to accomplish a lot more,” said Joe Nandhakumar, professor of information systems at Warwick Business School, which conducted the research. Evidence from the research suggests that knowledge workers who manage their presence successfully and control their responses are better at organising workflow and for these workers  social media is a central part of the culture.

Mr Nandhakumar also warned against organisations treating social media and easy access to it via mobile devices as a distraction for employees.  “They said that about email. They said that about the telephone. Businesses should change - social media is a fact of life” . The fact is you can’t stop people having this connectivity so we need to find out how we can manage it and how we can make it into something more positive .

There’s a common preconception that employers should optimize their business to get as close to 100%  work time productivity from their employees as they can. Social media is impermissible in that model.

Social media helps with Multitasking skills

Without a doubt, the “Twitter Generation” has excellent practice at the art of multitasking. Young adults involvement with social media has seen them develop astonishing multitasking abilities. Monitoring  Facebook and Twitter updates, checking / writing blogs, and sending email is all managed simultaneously. This multi-tasking ability translates well to the workplace. This generation of social media users can easily handle a variety of tasks and a varied  workload, therefore increasing productivity.

Taking a Mental Break improves work focus

Researchers now believe that a reasonable escape into the social media world may be providing young workers with a productivity-enhancing mental break. When a workers removes themselves from the task at hand for a few minutes every hour, their focus on work projects does not deplete over time. Creativity, efficiency and intellectual focus are preserved throughout the day. This result is more productive employees.

A  recent survey done by research firm Ipsos for Microsoft found that 46 per cent of people surveyed feel that social media tools helped increase workplace productivity.  The global study covering around 10,000 respondents across 32 different countries was commissioned to assess the role of social media and research tools in the workplace. The study found that 46% of respondents believed that access to social media tools increased their productivity. The research also found that Indian workers  use social media tools much more than their peers around the world and about 71% of the Indian workers surveyed felt that social media and research tools increase productivity.

A common sense  approach to network security gets results

All of this means that companys that adopts a common sense  approach to network security reap the rewards. The approach involves using a flexible web filtering tool that allows the IT department to block sites that are potentially dangerous and unsuitable such as porn and gambling, but log but not block access to other websites including social media platforms. This means that once a company determines what is considered an acceptable internet / social media usage level per employee or department and shares this information in the corporate internet usage policy they can then go on to monitor browsing activity  and based on this information take action if required.

Apart from increased productivity there is also unrealized value for businesses that change their understanding of social media to acknowledge that their employees can be organic marketing assets if empowered. This type of  security approach  allows the company to reap the rewards from the productivity and marketing benefits social media has to offer.


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