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Help! Facebook is ruining my company!

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We hear this statement a lot from business executives: "Help! My employees are on social networks all day long, Facebooking and Twittering, and it's killing productivity!"

In response to that, I wanted to build upon my July 2nd post about corporate social network usage policies, where I focused mainly on security.

Social technology is just another scapegoat for diminished workplace productivity - another scapegoat in a long line of scapegoats, since the dawn of the 9-to-5 workday.

Let's review some of the others:
  • Cigarette breaks.
  • The water cooler. 
  • Gossip. 
  • Restroom breaks. 
  • The three-martini lunch.  
  • Magazines. 
  • Personal phone calls. 
  • Solitaire. 
  • eBay. 
  • Instant messaging.
  • E-mail. 
The list goes on and one. Proof that the situation many modern workplaces face right now is a human resources issue, NOT a "social networks are destroying the world" issue.

Here's the deal: As the leader of your company, it's up to you to define expectations for employees. If you're not going to be Big Brother and lock down all the internet ports, that's great, but you need to establish rules as certain employees will inevitably abuse these freedoms.

Internet usage rules aren't a bad thing. In the past, you've been upfront with employees that it's not OK to browse pornographic Web sites, right? Again, all you need to do here is establish expectations that, yes, employees can check Facebook from time to time but they are expected to stay on task and complete the work assigned to them in a timely fashion. You also need to spell out the consequences if they don't follow these simple rules.

What are your thoughts? Has your company or organization developed a social technology usage policy? Do you feel leaving social networks 100 percent open hinders employee productivity? Please leave a comment below, I'm excited to hear your feedback.

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I agree with all of what you said. I think some businesses, from my experience have not thought this far out. I think like many rules from businesses I've worked for, there are rules and expectations that are unspoken. Sadly, I don't think that works for many people. I'm with you, if you are going to make some rules and you should, then communicate them to everyone.
I read an article a while back about how some agencies and companies would encourage their employees to check their personal social media accounts, email, etc. One of the points they made were about how well connected we are, now with the Blackberry and iPhone. We get emails at home after 5pm (during our personal time, but still take the time even then to respond or take care of business right away). Another point they talked about was how the lines between personal and work life seem to be getting smaller. I think corporate America is starting to see the light, the light being the fact that people have lives and things that are more important than work. People can't not have a family and problems while they are at work. Some employers I've heard are starting to be more accepting of that fact. They of course want your work to be done, etc. but are not so worried about you having another life outside an office. They accept it and don't question it. You take care of work when your at home, sick in bed and you take care of your sick kid and have to stay home at work, etc.
Another article said how they felt that allowing their employees time to check their personal emails, social media accounts allowed for a few minutes to refocus and mentally relax. Take a few minutes away, but not really go anywhere. Allowing employees to take several fifteen minute breaks throughout the day in this article was said to improve workplace productivity.
I just wanted to build on what you said above and put out a few ideas I have heard of, not wrong or right, but options for employers and employees. I think a lot depends on the job, time, etc. I just wanted to share those thoughts and hear what you think about those as options for employers and employees.

Managers, CEO(s), whatever you "people of power" call yourselves. Weed out the idiots who can't control themselves, i.e. morons who spend more time away from their desk than they do at it, and when they are at their desk, they're shopping online. Get rid of the dead weight, and let the productive employees play around with their fantasy sports, Facebook, and whatever else. As long as they're not spending every minute at work playing around with the internet, and they're getting the work done that is expected of them, leave those people alone. Get rid of the people who make all the trips to get water/coffee/soda and then subsequently make trips to the bathroom every 10 minutes. Those are the time wasters, and the least productive, so cut 'em loose. The people who spend 6 - 7 hours of their 8 hour work day? Leave 'em alone, and let 'em play once in a while. Give 'em a raise while you're at it!!!

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