Let’s face it, human beings are social creatures. Even if a company wanted to completely ban social networking at work, it would be a waste of time. Just about everyone has access to social network sites via their smart phones. How is allowing employees short breaks of time to connect with friends and family over the internet any different than looking the other way when they are around the water cooler talking about their weekend campout, the price of gas, or an update on little Jimmy’s soccer participation trophy? I would contend that more time is probably wasted in the work place talking about sports or the latest office gossip! So how does a modern company meet the challenge of social networking while at work? The smart company will embrace it.
A study conducted by the University of Melbourne contends that people who perform reasonable amounts of web-based social time are actually more productive than those who do not. The study featured 300 workers and found that those who spent time surfing the web were about 9% more productive than their counterparts.
How can that be, right? These people who try to hide their Facebook page when you walk by are actually more productive? Actually, the study makes sense. Using the internet for short bouts of recreation help employees recharge their batteries between tasks. These short breaks for the brain lead to “higher total net concentration and result in increased productivity” according to Dr. Brent Coker, from Melbourne’s Department of Management and Marketing.
Another group, Keas.com, who specialize in employee wellness, agree that employees are more productive when taking these short breaks. Besides productivity, Facebook was indirectly linked to employee health and happiness. People are positively affected by the happiness of others, even if that happiness is viewed digitally. If your company allows for smoke breaks, that is likely 20 to 30 minutes each day that smokers are taking to be less healthy. Allowing employees the same amount of time to social network will actually cause them to feel healthier and happier.
But how much social time is too much? Measure the results of the employee, not the time spent on social sites. If they are producing, meeting deadlines and goals, then give them the freedom, and the trust, to continue to be a productive member of your company. If their productivity drops, then this would be a good opportunity to set a time limit.
Does your company have a social network plan? We would love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Please share with us how you keep your employees productive. Oh, and by the way, you are probably reading this on company time! Now, back to work! 🙂