Thursday, May 20, 2010

To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Is Social Media Really Stealing Company Time?

Did you know that Americans work 10 hours fewer per week than they did pre-recession, and yet somehow we're still producing the same level of goods and services (the almighty measure of GDP and the economy)? It's true, according to the Harvard Business Review and Ben Bernanke.

And yet, according to the Wall Street Journal, we're facing an epidemic of cyberslacking at work.

So, to sum up: we waste time at work on social networking, but we're still as productive as we were before the economy crashed. Interesting.

My take on this has to do with the benefits of social media, and the fear of job loss. We all work a lot harder now, because no one is safe from layoffs, and those shorter hours are explained by the number of workers whose hours have been cut. And yet, social media provides a much needed break in the day for overworked, overstressed employees. I know it makes my day a little brighter being able to send a few instant messages to my husband while I'm at work. (Of course, I really like my current job, and my job involves being on social media all day, so I'm probably not the best example.)

Plus, there are a lot of benefits to being involved in social media. Twitter is a great place to look for potential customers, and post links to sales, conference appearances, or e-books. Facebook is a great place to interact with customers. And there are tons of tools out there to measure engagement, number of fans/followers, reach and so forth, so you really can calculate an ROI for your time investment.

This doesn't mean that employees don't have to behave while online--it still applies that you shouldn't trash your boss, download porn, or otherwise jeopardize your job with bad behavior. But workplaces should really cool it about banning social media in the workplace.

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