Is it the right time to be Banning Social Media at Work?

 

It is fair to say that social media is firmly integrated into our everyday lives with the majority of us avid users of one or more social platform. In fact 80% of smartphone users will check their phones and social apps within 15 minutes of waking up each morning; admit it, you do to?

We tend to make sense of our lives, or think we can, by organising them online in the eyes of everyone else. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest provide us with the ideal platforms for forming social relationships, reShould you ban Social Media in The Workplace?membering birthdays, engaging with professionals, lusting over products and reminiscing at last summer’s holiday snaps.

However, as professionals can employees work unaffected by their social lives to ensure they are productive? Or can social media actually aid in their productivity?

 

Social Media At The Office

There can be a fine line between personal and professional identity when it comes to social media. As a result many companies implement a strict ‘no social media whilst on duty’ policy resulting in many unable to mix what they’re doing at work with their lives outside of the office.

Oddly we rarely hear about how social media is a great tool for the office too. I mean, have you ever thought about how social platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram could be a great addition to the workplace?

Despite many employees gravitating towards banning social media at work or at least enforcing some limitations, social media is gaining more prominence in the hiring process for businesses worldwide. We saw one report claiming that 94% of recruiters use such platforms to:

  • Tweet job openings
  • Look up the candidates for more information

Perhaps, rather than shunning the social movement, it is time to think about your social media policy in a more realistic and constructive way utilising it to your advantage. According to Forbes, 78.6% of salespeople using social media at work outperformed their peers and generated a great deal of business through varying channels. Essentially social media can make your workforce happier and potentially improve your business’ bottom line.

Think about it; wouldn’t it be fantastic if you put in a clear strategy behind something your team members are already passionate about?

Learn To Find A Balance

As we’ve mentioned already, it is definitely worth reconsidering your current social media policy at work, especially if there isn’t one. Rather than exiling social channels, employers need to encourage a balance for their staff, urging social sharing but with clear guidelines. It is vital that employees understand what is acceptable to share, comment, or post whilst at the office – as well as at home - and how much time they should spend on their Facebook profile during the working week.

“How do I go about that?” I hear you say. Well, it’s not rocket science and the rules are essentially up to you to make, but here are some useful tips.

Representation – Take the time to mull over your business’ brand and values and integrate these into the rules that you set. After all your employees are the public faces of your business and governing a solid social media policy will ensure that they don’t do anything to cast a shadow over brand values.

Guidelines – Once you have considered the above you will need to outline a set of guidelines that are easily accessible for everyone. Whilst you should highlight that the guidelines are set in stone, and there will be no exceptions made, it needs to be an evolving document which you review regularly. Make sure you are crystal clear about what they are, and what is and isn’t acceptable both in and out of the office.

Training – It may be worth your while to consider bringing in a professional to teach your employees how to utilise social media and how to avoid abusing their social power.

Brain Breaks – Okay, so if your employee spends 90% of their day scrolling through their newsfeed, posting photos on Instagram and updating their tweets from their office desk you have a problem. However, there is nothing wrong with the occasional break from tasks and activities; just for a few minutes at least. Everyone needs a break or two during the day and many reports suggest that we should be taking them every 90 minutes. So if you ban social platforms then you need to ask yourself if it's more harmful than it is helpful?

Facebook At Work

Social media can not only work as part of your marketing strategy but it is often a great tool for internal use too. It works particularly well when tying workers together from different departments and offices. Take a look at Facebook At Work for example.

Hoping to win over the critics, Facebook have recently launched a platform designed specifically for working environments across the globe*. Available as an app on both iOS and Android as well as standard web use Facebook have adapted their offering to compete with existing workplace communication tools like Google and Microsoft.

The project, which was inspired by the way Facebook’s own staff used features such as groups and private messaging for their work, will harness similar features of the original product such as news feeds, groups, messages and events. The new platform will be purely for use within companies where employee information is not accessible outside of the office and their personal Facebook profiles are a completely separate entity.

*However, as of yet the service is exclusively running with their ‘pilot partners’ in a test like scheme. Facebook have not yet revealed how it plans to charge for its new service, or whether it plans to charge at all, so all we can do for the minute is hold tight.

Before Banning Staff from using it, do Rethink Your Social Media Policy

As social media interaction statistics still continue to rise and companies like Facebook aim to infiltrate the workplace it is time to rethink your social media policy. As we have outlined above, it isn’t necessarily a burden on your work force, but can in fact benefit them as individuals and your business as a whole.

 

 

Posted by Paul Randall
25th February 2015