Does social media use at work impact productivity?

To counter the social media insurgence, and to boost workplace productivity, many employers have implemented various policies to forbid the use of social media at the workplace. However, the actual question is — will it make any difference?

Today, almost everyone is on social media. It is the next big substance of addiction today’s era faces. People are addicted to social media to such an extent that checking their phone for any pop-ups, notifications and messages is the first activity that most people do after waking up in the morning. This habit also shows up at the workplace, wherein, they sneak into their phone with the slightest intimidation. In fact, the use of social media at work is greatly known to hamper workplace productivity.

To counter the social media insurgence, and to boost workplace productivity, many employers have implemented various policies to forbid the usage of social media at the workplace. However, the actual question is, do they make any difference?

According to statistics, on average, a user spends approximately 2 hours or more every day, messaging on social media platforms. However, this data varies greatly depending on the country. For instance, in the Philippines, the average user can spend approximately 4 hours or more on social media platforms. In the US, the number is even higher.

India is fast catching up with the numbers. And it is especially bad news for the employers here — because, if not curbed in time, excessive social media usage at work will significantly affect workplace productivity.

Impact of social media networking sites on productivity

Social media sites are actively accessed in the workplace. Employees are so used to it that it has become a vital aspect of everyday workplace routine. There is an inherent human reason why social media can be so distracting and addictive. The need for attention and recognition is so immense that people even forgo work to check the latest likes, comments and notifications.

This behaviour is highly unproductive, as it distracts a focused mind, which greatly impacts workplace productivity. Plus, an employee who is active on social media is oblivious of time. As a result, they end up spending more time on social media than intended. This affects the completion rate of the task and results in missing deadlines. Most workers don’t work and are unproductive when active on social media.

To counter this menace, many companies have implemented various social media policies which include adding a firewall to their desktop systems. Employers can now track internet and social media use within the office premises and can be strict with their rules and policies. Plus, you can employ a social media manager to check internet use at the workplace. This can help a great deal to curb the excessive internet usage. It will help your employees focus and do some productive work.

Is firewall the right option?

Everyone wishes to relax for some time after completing a task, but that doesn’t mean that one should spend most of their workday on social media updates when they are getting paid for the work they do. But is a firewall the best option to bring about workplace productivity? Before we answer this, let us take a look at some numbers.

Approximately 19% of social media users cannot focus on their work if they don’t check social media messages every 2 hours, and about half of them check social media updates every single day. According to a survey, it is easy for an individual to switch on to social media during a quick break, but switching out of that zone is difficult and often takes more time than expected. This is alarming. If the employees of a company display such habits, then this will impact the profits of the company.

Therefore, a firewall is one of the ideal solutions to curb social media usage at work, as it greatly limits internet use at the office workstation. Firewalls work wonders by restricting internet access to the sites relating to work and curbing access to social media on their desktops. However, employees can still access the internet on their phones, but that kind of usage is acceptable. If you want, you can implement a strict cell phone use policy to counter the use of social media on smartphones.

Connect your employees with intranet

Do you have a young and restless staff that is more interested in socialisation and online engagement, but are still productive to your business? You can capitalise on their habit of socialisation by establishing an intranet network in your office.

Several large organisations have adopted this strategy to counter the use of social media at work, at the same time, take advantage of their employees’ need for socialisation. An online, employee-only engagement platform encourages social engagement and communication between peers, allowing them to exchange ideas and be more productive at work.

The intranet is a secure and private network which can be organisationally wide enough to include global chat options or a relay message service (such as broadcasts or announcements) for all the workforce, or, the service can be divided into smaller groups. These smaller private options can provide a virtual meeting zone for teams. Intranet at the workplace is not a new concept. Microsoft and IBM have been using intranet since the 1990s to connect all its onsite and remote staff, contractors and workers to boost workplace productivity.

Moreover, it has been observed that active intranet greatly reduces the time spent on external social media updates during office hours.

Social media has its benefits

That said, allowing social media in a workplace has its advantages on morale, and subsequently, the productivity of employees. Some of these are:

  • Employee satisfaction: The results of the latest research conducted by a leading marketing firm propose that an employee who is a social media ‘power-user’, was more productive at work in comparison to an average employee. Plus, such employees were more content with their current work environment and remained with their current employer for longer durations. The study thus debunks the myth to some extent that usage of social media at work is detrimental to workplace productivity.
  • Multitasking employees: This research evaluated 110,000 employees, out of which, 34,000 were active on one to four social networking sites. Out of these respondents, 1,400 respondents were daily active on at least five social media sites. This group of active social media users demonstrated a 1.5 times higher sales conversion ratio with lower call times. This indicates that individuals who have an increased capability to multitask and socialise, along with enhanced software knowledge, find better success at work and become top performers.

This study suggests that social media activity, over time, enhances certain skills which lead to better workplace productivity. However, the essence lies in efficient moderation of services. As experts conclude — excessive usage of anything is always detrimental to the purpose which it once served. The key is in finding a balance between social media usage and work. You obviously cannot restrict usage of social media as people will need it to relax and unwind. However, you can curb its overuse to ensure that it doesn’t hamper workplace productivity.

When you introduce a social media policy for your employees, make it more inclusive. Consider the benefits of social media and encourage a more balanced use during work hours. You can run awareness campaigns in your organisation with the help of social media managers that show the impact of social networking sites on workplace productivity. The more aware your employees become, the more wisely they will use social media at work.

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One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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