Social Networking Sites At Work Places

office_computerSocial networking is good and bad. Good because it connects people across the world and help them to understand other cultures. Mostly the social networking sites connect old friends, lost friends and less number of new friends. Bad because it kills the time and makes onliners unproductive. It is highly the work places restrict the social networking for the better health conditions and work productivity of its employees.

The Times of India writes (28 July 2009)

Are you one of those people who tuck in a bit of Web socialising while at work? Well, a study now claims that your productivity might be dipping
because of this habit. The survey, conducted by a Boston-based firm, says that productivity at the workplace is hit by people who socialise on the internet during office hours. The firm even quantifies its findings, saying that employers who allow employees access to social networking sites in office lose an average 1.5 per cent in worker productivity. Frankly, this is much ado about nothing.

The fundamental problem with this survey is that it is very difficult to establish a direct correlation between time spent socialising on the internet by workers and their productivity. The output of an employee, and the organisation, is dependent on a combination of factors. It could well be a case of lethargy or disenchantment that hampers an employee’s productivity.

Social networking on the internet is a relatively new phenomenon. It is another dimension of the socialisation process, which includes telephone conversations, texting, e-mail, and good old-fashioned personal interactions. Employers have not put restrictions on talking over the phone or stepping out for lunch, so why single out networking on the Web? Social engagement lubricates the wheels of society. In its absence, life would be mechanical and insular. Spending a few minutes at work keeping in touch with the world outside is not such a bad thing. It can be beneficial, as employees might get ideas and make new contacts which will enhance their productivity while networking on the internet.

In any case, there are studies which contradict the findings of this particular survey. Recently, a research project at the University of Melbourne suggested that people who spend a reasonable amount of time on the internet for fun at work are actually more productive almost 9 per cent more. The workplace is being redefined rapidly these days, allowing employees flexibility and loosening up. An employee-friendly organisation is bound to be more productive. Let’s rest this case.
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The survey confirms what was always suspected. Social networking sites impact work output negatively. Two aspects revealed in the survey explain
why these sites could prove to be a menace for firms. One, most of the workers who were part of the survey use the site in this case, Facebook during office hours and some of them up to two hours daily. Two, few among them could give a legitimate reason for having logged on to the site.

Put the two together and it is clear that social networking on the internet
is an addiction that eats into work time. There is no evidence to assume that such intrusion does not affect the productivity of a worker. This is not to argue that workers must shun all forms of social interaction at the workplace. However, social engagement should not be at the cost of work. Today, work hours are structured in such a manner that it is possible for workers to take time off and engage socially. What else are the designated lunch and tea breaks? However, office discipline demands that employees stick to the norms and make sure that productivity doesn’t suffer.

We have a different problem with the social networking sites. It is difficult to monitor and regulate engagement here. The nature of the engagement is such that it allows a person to float out of the workspace and time while being physically present. Old ideas of office discipline and work etiquette are difficult to sustain in the internet age. Who is to know if an employee shifts his work location to a destination a social networking site in this case on the World Wide Web? How do you account for the loss of work time, especially if we have to count them in hours?

It may become necessary for firms to restrict access to social networking sites at the workplace if quality time is not to be wasted on the web. No doubt, self-regulation is the best bet. But there’s hardly any incentive to make that possible. At the cost of some unpopularity, workplaces will have to restrict access to social networking sites if they are to get the best out of employees at work.

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