Facebook at Work = More or Less Productive?

October 20, 2009 at 2:43 am 6 comments

CIOZone recently published an in-depth and thought provoking read in their article “Social Media in the Workplace: Boon or Bane?”  The article dissects a Nucleus Research study that casts a negative light on social media in businesses — with a central finding that when employees use Facebook at work, it leads to a 1.5% productivity loss. facebook_logo

The article rather effortlessly contradicts many of the Nucleus arguments while pointing to a host of studies that report more favorable findings about social media use at the office. One additional curiosity raised: given the bottom line recommendation that companies block access to Facebook, the article questions the possibility that one of the the Nucleus technology vendor clients sponsored the study.

The CIOZone article goes on to cite a myriad of additional studies on Facebook and social media use that present balanced or generally positive findings and conclusions. The discussion is rounded out by reviewing the trend of the blending of work and personal life and quotes from proponents of social media use explaining how it increases productivity on the job.

Read the full article from CIOZone, “Social Media in the Workplace: Boon or Bane?

What do you think? Have you ever had to work through lunch, when a quick five minutes checking your friends updates was your only break? Do you know someone who spends hours a day on social media sites? Do you feel you need to check work e-mail when you’re not at work? Does that make it reasonable to connect with personal social networks at the office?

(Note: In case there was any question, I created this post from home.)


Entry filed under: facebook, Policies, Research. Tags: , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eliana  |  November 18, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    nice blog. and i struggle with this question every time i sit in front of computer.

  • 2. Eliana  |  November 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    less productive for sure… much much less…

  • 3. Nid  |  November 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    This is a hard question and one many people struggle with. I think its fine as long as there is a 5-10 min time limit.

    • 4. kosullivan  |  November 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm

      Great point about having parameters around the amound of time an employee could spend on social media sites as a way to minimize loss of productivity. With the rise of remote computing and BlackBerry usage, there is often the expectation that you need to be accessible all the time. It makes it harder to truly ever disconnect from the office. If I’m working a 12 hour day without a break, spending just a few few minutes to check in with a social network, would help make the day a bit more bearable. A timeout period for these sites would in that case be much better than having the company block them entirely.

  • 5. D. Lucas  |  December 1, 2009 at 2:13 am

    I would argue that overall, access to social media websites in the workplace decreases employee productivity. Quite simply, anything that distracts an employee from their day-day work responsibilities will ultimately decrease their productivity. This would include, taking personal calls throughout the day, texting friends, tweeting, surfing the internet, and social media websites.

    However, I do agree that employees do need some down time during the day. So the proposal that access to these types of sites should be limited (i.e. 10min a day), is a fair compromise. It would help boost employee morale, and foster trust.

    Ultimately, I think most companies restricted access to these sites because a large number of employees were visiting them. For all we know, these could be the employees that do not have enough work to do and are simply bored. Unfortunately, for the rest of us that are overworked, and just need a quick mental break – we “SOL”.

    • 6. kosullivan  |  December 1, 2009 at 3:56 am

      All great points, and thank you for the thoughtful comments. For those of us who feel overworked and need a quick break, a 10-minute break to check our friends’ updates on Facebook or send personal e-mails/texts/tweets will do the trick. But meanwhile, the workers that waste time doing this and get caught are the whole reason these policies were probably created to begin with.


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