Social Media at Work: Stay or Slay?•
You log on. Scan your friend feed. Like a few funny posts. And nervously stack a few windows on your desktop to keep prying eyes from the social media on your computer screen. After all, Facebooking could get you (gasp) FIRED.
Might sound silly today but back in 2009, more than half (54%) of companies banned social media use in the workplace. Yes, America, social media censorship happened. Just two years later, that number dropped more than 20% according to Robert Half Technology. Progress…phew.
Today? Like it or not, using social media is pretty much part of the workday. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it. Not even just social media sites but old fashioned IM-ing, mobile apps, and games are constant workday interrupters. Haven’t you stopped to check out Pokémon Go lately? The top reason for social media use at work? Just to take a mental break.
All this fuss about social media and Internet habits—all because we need a momentary neuron pause?
As someone who’s worked in media her entire career, I never had to worry about website bans or HR tracking my media consumption. Quite the reverse, as an advertising and marketing professional, if you’re not using social media you’re not doing your homework. And even if you’re not in any media- or Internet-related field, online presence is mandatory for any company that’s, well, just doing business. Demonstrating employee engagement helps the public get a sense of company culture. And every company that needs to attract employees, customers—and get found—needs that social media presence, if only, to prove to the Interwebs that they are traveling with us in time. Every company. Except. Apple. (‘Cause they “Think different.”)
Though major companies may focus on misuse of social media that could put them at legal risk (like when a post showing a Taco Bell employee licking taco shells hit the company Facebook feed,) the biggest concern revolves around fear of losing productivity. With one third of the workforce using social media for at least an hour a day, it might sound like a legitimate concern. Until you factor in that 47% of people actually think the biggest waste of time is attending too many meetings. Hmm… (Insert chin scratch here.)
Social media networks are a part of our digital lives. A digital life that crosses into our work lives for a momentary reminder that who we are at work is also who we are at home. Just like taking a break might mean sharing a Spotify playlist or chit chatting about the latest episode Game of Thrones, a certain amount of work-life integration is normal. Some companies have found social media use actually boosts morale—which in turn boosts productivity.
So what’s the debate about again? Work and life. Where does one end and the other begin? What are the real risks using social media versus inconsequential chatter? Let’s discuss—do we fence our digital lives or accept our culture of digital communication? We’d love to hear your thoughts.