“Last July, Nucleus Research reported that productivity dropped 1.5% at companies that allow full access to social media. This is probably because they also found that 87% of use was not work-related. The headlines are a little alarmist, however, because they also note that only one in 33 employees accessed Facebook at work.”
From Positively Media
Who wants to report that last fact? It doesn’t give us any reason to block social networks while at work. 1 in 33 people accessed Facebook at work for companies surveyed that gave employees full access to social networks. That’s barely over 3%. It’s like 3.0303030303%. If a company is blocking access to social networks, it’s because they don’t trust 3% of employees. 3 %. 97% of employees could take on the 3% who abuse the system, couldn’t they?
Think about it. Social networks work because, generally, they are user regulated. People in workplaces discover what is accepted amongst their peers and what is not. Especially with all of the cubicle farms that seems to be the trends for the ‘open and transparent’ office (I wonder how many of these offices have blocked access to social networks and aren’t using social tools online… a bit ironic I think).
Take a quick survey over the next couple of days. How many of your coworkers spend part of their day in the coffee room chatting about their weekend, or last night’s episode of Survivor? How many times in a day does somebody stop by your desk to see how your day is going? How would you feel if nobody stopped to say hello?
if employees have appropriately challenging and defined goals and targets to meet at work, then they will either self-regulate or self-terminate. The ability to text message or post a Tweet should not be viewed as an indication of deviant behavior. There are, after all, lots of ways to waste time.
Great at work time wasters: Make coffee a habit, there’s always someone at the coffee pot waiting to chat. Make water a habit, you’ll get to head to the bathroom every 5 minutes. Who goes to the candy dish the most? (That’s me). They waste a lot of time. How about the people who are always wandering down the hall to chat? Or have to go to the bathroom more than a couple of times a day? They’re probably the same ones who drink a lot of water or coffee (that’s me).
Do we all work the same way? Sitting at our desks like lemmings, tap tap tapping away at our keyboards… If we look productive then we must be productive, right? Wrong. I can’t speak for the majority of workers out there. But I can speak for myself. My job is to know social media, so my participation in social networks throughout the day is accepted. But if my job wasn’t to be in social media, I’d have the same behaviours. I’d visit the candy dish every couple of hours. I’d head to the coffee pot, the water cooler, the bathroom, a co-worker’s office, etc. to chat several times a day. Am I wasting time? Has the internet given me ADD?
When I was a kid, I hovered. I hovered a lot. It drove my mom mad. When I was in a hovering mood, nothing could distract me from hovering. I followed her around the house, watched her dust, perched on the nearest chair. I didn’t have anything to say. I had plenty of other things to do. But I hovered anyway. Over time, I’ve learnt to make my hovering more productive… and to annoy people less. Hovering (apparently), annoys people when there’s no point to it. But when it’s hovering with the intent to chat, and doesn’t actually appear as hovering, it’s more accepted. I also hover on Facebook… and Twitter… and YouTube… but it’s more fragmented. I’ll spend 30 seconds flipping into Facebook, and 30 minutes working, another 30 seconds on Twitter, another 20 minutes working. And so goes my day. And my work gets done. I’ve found ways to manage my hovering. If I didn’t hover online, I’d be hovering around the offices of my coworkers. I know I would. But because I know that, and because I value what I can bring to the table in a company, I mitigate my hovering. If I didn’t care, you’d know. But if you told me I couldn’t hover anymore… well… I’d probably leave and go find a place that allowed me the flexibility to work how I work.
The debate for me isn’t whether human beings are “rational decision makers” (as the ‘other blog post‘ to this topic might suggest) or whether they will ultimately self regulate. There are a kazillion (alright, not QUITE that many yet) of us on earth. Like a quarter of a kazillion of us in North America. Please, show me one theory that fits ALL human behaviour. Show me something that merits the debates on behaviours of people in the work place. But also, show me a workplace that is flexible enough to accommodate different behaviours and belief systems. By some magic, I’ve found mine. I don’t know what lucky star I wished upon when I was a child, but I’ve found a place where my behaviours and my beliefs, along with the needs of the company seem to coincide.
The question is not whether to block social networks or not… (why do we even block them at all when we can see who’s on what site and for how long? )… But what value can our employees gain from their networks? So many people are hired for the people they are connected to… what if those connections are online? And what if you are denying them access during work hours to people who can ultimately enhance your situation? Online social networks are the same as offline social networks. And really, by denying your employees access to their social networks, are you denying your company access to valuable resources? (It’s not what you know… it’s who you know). How many people take their work home with them? (that’s me). My gut feel is that most won’t. So do you want the intelligence their acquaintances have to offer? Or do you want them to live in a bubble?