Employers getting tough on social network use at work

Filed as News on August 19, 2009 3:28 pm

facebook-logo-1In statistics which hardly surprise, given the number of problems employees have caused for themselves on Facebook and Twitter recently, employees are cracking down on the use of social networks in the workplace.

ScanSafe’s latest analysis of over a billion web sites discovered that over three-quarters of companies now block social networking sites — up 20% in the last six months.

As well as the supposed benefit in productivity from blocking non-work sites that can sap employee time (though a blanket ban may be counter-productive and a restricted hours policy might be better for morale) there’s also the reduced risk of malware creeping into a company’s systems, as well as saved bandwidth.

“Social networking sites can expose businesses to malware and if not used for business purposes can be a drain on productivity and bandwidth,” said ScanSafe’s director of product management, Spencer Parker. “Given the option, companies are increasingly taking a sterner approach to the sites that their employees are allowed to access. I imagine before long, social networking will be up there with pornography in terms of categories blocked.”

It’s a fine balancing act. Some companies are using social networks for business purposes, but where is the line drawn?

Does a blanket ban actually sap employee productivity? Might it be better to allow the use of Facebook et al during lunchtime rather than not at all?

What do you think? Facebook at work, or not?

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  1. By gxg posted on August 19, 2009 at 4:33 pm
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    I vote to keep access to sites open, a little break from work can relax you.
    Of course, I’m not the one deciding these things at my work place :(

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  2. By Boris posted on August 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm
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    nothing wrong with just lunchtimes – I figure you should be working during work time – but I can see how some people are using it as a virtual water cooler.

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  3. By Joy-Mari posted on August 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm
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    It’ll save company bandwidth, sure, but it might decrease productivity: people will find other websites to peruse; they’ll use their smartphones instead of the work’s internet connection; and they’ll spend more time smoking outside.

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  4. By Katrina March posted on August 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm
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    I admit, these social networking sites can be tempting and addictive, especially some games on Facebook . Outside the office, one can just spend hours playing these games. That can be one good reason why employers do not want their employees to use these social networking sites while at work.

    On the other hand, gxg and Boris also have a point. Employees can be allowed to use these sites during lunch or break times, and they can be a good form of relaxation. Since many employees would most likely not agree to employers blocking these networking sites, both parties can probably compromise and agree on certain rules to observe regarding the use of social networking sites at work… although this idea would really depend on the employers’ generosity.

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