I’ll bet a lot of your employees are heavily into My Space, Facebook and other social networking websites, i.e., sites that use software to build online communities of people who share common interests and in which members create their own profiles and interact with each other via chat, messaging, video, file sharing, blogs, discussion groups and other methods. How do these activities affect productivity and safety performance?
Social Networking Hurts Productivity
Conventional wisdom says that social networking makes workers less productive. Anyone who has at least dabbled in social networking can understand how addictive it can be and how easily it can suck up time. What may be intended as a simple exchange can suddenly turn into a day-long interaction. And, of course, many employees choose to do their social networking at work.
The productivity losses resulting from these diversions are only beginning to be measured. For example, a 2007 BBC report cites a recent study that reveals that social networking could be costing UK employers an average of about ₤130 million in lost productivity--per day!
Social Networking Helps Productivity
The conventional view, supported by the UK study cited in the article above, is that employees who engage in social networking, twittering, web surfing and other internet activities at work are less productive than those who stay focused on their job. But a new study from the University of Melbourne casts doubt on this thinking.
Of 300 employees surveyed, 70% admitted to engaging in “Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing” (WILB). That’s no surprise. But according to the study, employees who use the internet for fun at work are about 9% more productive than those who don’t.
Being able to zone out on the internet enables employees to re-gather their concentration, suggests study author, Dr. Brent Coker: “Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day’s work and increases productivity.”
Of course, this doesn’t include internet addicts who spend just about all their time watching videos, shopping online or using social networks like Facebook. The kind of productive internet use the Melbourne study describes is one carried out in moderation, which the study—perhaps generously—describes as less than 20% of work time.
Source: Dr. Brent Coker, University of Melbourne, www.unimelb.edu.au, Department of Management and Marketing, Study, April 2, 2009.