Online Social Networking: Blessing for Productivity

sport shakeSocial networking websites, alleged slayers of productivity, have once again been targeted by a study / survey. The hypotheses: Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are arresting the productivity of office workers. The conclusion: The IT services group Morse found, after interviewing 1,460 UK office workers, that social networking sites roughly cost UK firms $2.25 billion dollars annually.

Needless to say, that’s a lot of money.

If you are a person in a leadership position, brace yourself…this next bit might shock you. The study further estimated that office workers waste spend around 40 minutes on social networking sites…a week.

I’d argue that it might be more then 40 minutes a week, especially as smart-phone usage becomes as normal as brushing your teeth. Still, assuming the figure is in the ball park, could those ill-spent 40 minutes have been better invested by an employee? I’d like to say probably not, but we can’t tell.

I’m going to go a step further and guess that social networking increases productivity. Instead of chatting with your friend on the phone a quick message on Twitter or Facebook might save time. Examples abound. Critics argue that games and applications built into sites like Facebook are distractions and time wasters. Indeed, they are and people who spend time playing games at work have no excuses. However, if you are using the sites for social networking then you are saving time and perhaps increasing your (or your firms) potential client/consultant base.

Office workers will always network. We should be thankful that social media has streamlined networking so we can all save time and perhaps even increase productivity.

Hat tip to Mashable for turning me on to the survey.

Samuel B. Bacharach

I'm a professor at Cornell University's Institute for Workplace Studies in NYC. I write about the importance of proactive leadership in the office..(read more)

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