Workzone: Employers continue warming to social networking usage
Odds are, the days of looking over your shoulder while aimlessly perusing Facebook at work could soon be over.
With workplace use of popular social networking sites on the rise, a recent study suggests the number of large organizations blocking social media is on the downturn.
Researchers at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. project that by 2014, fewer than 30 percent of large employers will block employee access to social media sites, compared to 50 percent in 2010. The number of organizations blocking all access to social media sites is decreasing by 10 percent each year.
Andrew Walls, research vice president at Gartner, said the projections are based on a collation of several outside surveys, as well as information gathered from Gartner clients.
One local expert said the trend holds true in Pittsburgh, where employers are increasingly allowing -- and even encouraging -- the use of social media during work.
"People used to go to the water cooler, and now they go to their social media site for interaction," said Chris Posti, president of Posti & Associates, a human resources consulting firm based in Green Tree. "I think it's really an enhancement of productivity when people can feel connected to others."
Ms. Posti said the amount of social media use in the workplace varies from industry to industry, and many area employers are adding clauses into employee handbooks that offer social media guidelines.
These guidelines can range from being required to be active on Facebook or LinkedIn, to the recommendation to operate two Facebook accounts -- one private and one public.
She added that if companies and businesses truly want to attract progressive, younger employees, they need to give serious thought to encouraging social networking while still remaining productive at work.
But that, in itself, may be the trick.
A 2011 study dauntingly suggests that work distractions, with social media at the forefront, are costing companies millions of dollars a year in lost revenue.
The study, commissioned by social email software provider harmon.ie, reports that more than 60 percent of work distractions nowadays can be blamed on the electronic age, causing more than half of employees to spend at least an hour a day being, well, unproductive.
Moral of the story: Use social media for networking and building business relationships. But maybe tagging yourself in your friends' party pictures from the weekend can wait until you get home.
First Published June 3, 2012 12:00 am