8:54 AM Wednesday November 11, 2009
by Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd
Think about your organization and ask yourself these two questions:
- Are external social media sites restricted or blocked while at work?
- Is the use of social media in the workplace inhibited or frowned upon?
If you answered yes, then your organization is one of the majority of firms with over 100 employees that have yet to embrace the use of social media in the workplace for the average worker. In a study conducted by Robert Half Technology entitled “Whistle But Don’t Tweet At Work,” many organizations are struggling with how to integrate social media into the workplace.
However, there are a growing number of firms such as IBM, Toshiba, and Cerner Corporation that are becoming über-connected workplaces. Using social media tools such as wikis, blogs, microblogs and corporate social networks, they are connecting employees globally and are fostering mass collaboration. As a result, these companies are seeing improvements in communication, cross-functional collaboration and creative approaches to problem solving. More companies are discovering that an über-connected workplace is not just about implementing a new set of tools — it is also about embracing a cultural shift to create an open environment where employees are encouraged to share, innovate and collaborate virtually.
Recent research provides evidence that there are business benefits to becoming an über-connected organization:
- Access to social media improves productivity. According to Dr Brent Coker from the Department of Management and Marketing at University of Melbourne in Australia, workers who engage in “Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing” are more productive than those who don’t. “People who surf the Internet for fun at work — within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office — are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t,” he says. “Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos on YouTube, using social networking sites like Facebook or shopping online under the pretense that it costs millions in lost productivity, however that’s not always the case.”
- Millennials will seek jobs that encourage the use of social media. Those born between 1977 and 1997 — the ones you need to hire to replace the retiring boomers — are networked 24/7 and expect the company to accommodate pervasive connectivity. An Accenture survey of Millennial preferences for various technologies at work found that they prefer to communicate via instant messaging, text messaging, Facebook and RSS feeds. What’s more, they are prepared to bypass corporate IT departments if these tools are blocked. One Millennial MBA, typical of those we meet, says, “I need to access my Facebook in order to do my job.” Has blocking Facebook today become the equivalent of denying an employee access to a phone at work 40 years ago or email 20 years ago?
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