I had an interesting phone call today that got me thinking. The topic at hand was do you think social media could be used internally in companies?
We all know if you are surrounded by computers all day, there is a high chance you have checked your facebook account or email account at least a couple of times. Studies have shown that employees spend at least 30 mins a day on social networking sites during work.
Companies are concerned about the amount of time spent on social networking to a point where most (around 43% in England) have banned social networking sites. Companies interviewed asked employees “would you pay your neighbours to grocery shop for themselves?” and stated that it is equivalent to companies paying for employees to engage in personal activities during work hours.
But, what if companies could put a twist on this ever-growing issue. Articles on social networking issues have stated that companies should not ban these sites, but embrace them. They argue that employees will find other ways of engaging in these sites and that it won’t solve the issue at hand. With the Internet growing and with mobile phone applications allowing for easy Internet access, it will be nearly impossible to keep employees from engaging in social networks. Some articles have even stated that some employees, after being warned for using social networking sites, have been fired for abusing company time on social sites.
Should companies embrace this and use it to their benefit?
Allowing employees to engage in social media networks could be beneficial to a company. Employees would be able to communicate easily amongst each other, which in turn could help create a more business friendly culture. Facilitating communication amongst employees could solve potential conflicts of interest, encourage trust, allow for more resources and exchanging of knowledge, and allow a community to be built within a company. Even planned events, news and rewards could be announced through such means. This could be the new way to encourage teamwork and team building.
Using these sites could also increase communication from upper levels of management to lower levels of management. It could help companies track employees concerns and build a better relationship between employees and their company.
Of course, there is no question that a company policy should be created to limit the amount of time spent on social network sites. Perhaps monitoring or scheduled time in the morning, at lunch, and during the afternoon would allow for orderly use of social networking sites.
Although extensive research has not been performed on the following, I do think it’s an interesting take on social media sites being used in the work place and could perhaps change how we communicate in the future.