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Social Media in the Workplace
By: Jessica Cherok
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Want to make sure your employees aren’t goofing off on social media at work? For a lot of companies, there is a tendency to try and ban social media outright in order to keep employee productivity in line. But before you go all North Korea and attempt to control everything, there are some things you should consider.

In a world where almost everyone has their own mobile device, blocking social media sites from the company’s network probably won’t do much. Employees will simply open Facebook from their phones if they can’t get to it on the work computer. You may feel like you’ve managed to control social media use at work, but you’re mistaken.

You may even feel compelled to ban personal devices altogether. If your employees can’t use their phones at work, and they can’t access social media on their work computers, then surely you’ve beaten back the social media distraction, right?

Probably not.

Now your employees are sneaking to use their phones to access social media. It’s actually more time consuming. Maybe they’re making several trips to the bathroom, staying in there a long time, spending a lot of time looking at their laps, etc. Because they’re trying to use social media on the sly, they’ll spend more time plotting and less time being productive.

Instead of trying to eliminate social media in the workplace, consider a level of acceptance. Educate all of your employees — not just IT people — on the risks and pitfalls of using social media while on the job.

If you’re a company that deals with high-risk, sensitive information, it makes sense to be very concerned, but don’t assume that every employee understands that without being told. Most people aren’t trying to do the wrong thing, but may not be aware of the huge implications of their actions online. Letting them know the risks empowers them to make more informed decisions.

Also consider whether your attitude toward social media is necessary or antiquated. After all, employees can be some of the biggest champions of your brand, provided you haven’t made them all terribly disgruntled with an oppressive social media policy.

Perhaps allowing some level of social media in the workplace will open a whole new avenue of spreading the good word about your business.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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