No one can deny that social media is an innovation on traditional communication that has taken the world by storm. Recent usage data for Facebook from shows that 1.79 billion users actively use the site every month to share their lives and opinions with friends and family members. Twitter has approximately 317 million users tweeting opinions about the most urgent social issues of the moment. These are just two of a wide choice of apps that preoccupy smartphone and computer users during the course of a work day.
Controlling social media in the office is such a tough agenda to set that many companies avoid it. Not creating strict guidelines for acceptable usage, however, can lead towards a myriad of problems, some of which follow.
Employees who actively chat online, are basically engaging in activities that compete with work projects that should be getting their undivided attention. While interactions with their online contacts can often be as simple and uncomplicated as sending a smiley face, many have heated and often argumentative social media exchanges, which can be a major distraction. They can also leave those engaged in them in a down mood.
The overall emotional impact on a staff member embroiled in a virtual disagreement can be anything from mildly depressed to totally distracted by something not at all related to the responsibilities they’re being paid to perform.
Divided attention spans and concentration
It’s nearly impossible to entirely restrict employees from using their devices in today’s app centered culture. unfortunately. Not allowing anyone in an office to use social media sites, can actually create an atmosphere in which everyone’s constantly secretly engaged in online exchanges with friends or even other colleagues. Structuring social media use, on the other hand, can be an effective digital business platform.
Some companies have been successful at designating specific time periods when texting and engaging in online activity of a personal nature is okay. An employee who knows that they’re going to get a free moment soon to pick up their phone and catch up with the latest posts on their social media profile may be more able to concentrate on their work.
Data from Pew Research shows that allowing reasonable social media access can create a more dynamic work space. It can give staff members an emotional boost that can have a positive influence on the their job performance. It really comes down to individual personalities, however. For many, even knowing that they’ll get time to interact on social media later, is not enough to stop them from grabbing for their devices whenever they vibrate. Some employees will remain distracted by alarm notifications from friends.
It exposes a company to hacking and phishing schemes
Someone who keeps an active bio on a site such as Linkedin provides confidential information about where they work and their title that can ultimately enable phishing schemes in which corporate information scraped off their profile is used to phish for further information. Hackers don’t need a lot of information about a company to pose as members of in-house IT teams and make illegitimate requests for username and password updates.
Hackers also commonly take control of social media accounts and make malicious posts before companies even notice. Blue Coat Systems recently reported that the average data breach can cost a small business as much as $10,000 to recover from.
Social media is an omnipresent part of modern life. It’s a safe bet that employees won’t cut off all contact with popular apps when they enter their offices. It may be impossible for a company to completely control employees usage of them. Even if the decision is made to run a tightly controlled workplace that doesn’t enable employees to easily use it, social media has become an essential tool that companies use to promote their brands.
Rather than trying to limit its role, it’s may be more practical for every company to know to what extent it wants social media to play in its culture and create clear policy around it that its team is conscious of and on board with.
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