Social media has become so ubiquitous in our lives that many businesses have struggled to keep up with the change, and few have managed to utilise the medium to their advantage. Every month or so there’s another story about how an errant tweet or mistimed Facebook status has resulted in a PR disaster for a brand or business.
A recent study has found that 40 percent of office workers in the EU reported workplace restrictions on or outright banning of social media, cloud storage apps and video streaming services. From a business perspective this makes a lot of sense; you’re protecting yourself from a PR disaster, employees wasting time and closing off an avenue for data theft.
The outright banning of social media may have made some sense around a decade ago but we live in the age of the smartphones that have an internet connection everywhere, and if it’s not a smartphone it’s a tablet, even watches, fridges and ovens offer some level of connectivity. It’s no wonder that 40 percent of UK workers admitted to defying workplace restrictions on social media.
However Dr Dimitrious Tsivrikos, consumer and business psychologist at University College London, believes that banning social media may make employees waste more time; “If…they [businesses] also neglect the contemporary needs of their workforce they may face reductions in employee productivity and engagement.”
Furthermore the modern way of thinking is that businesses need to adapt to the new technological landscape and level of connectivity, Dr Tsivrikos goes on to say “Real trust must be mutual. Organisations are far better off observing how employees are working, and then finding ways to make this behaviour compatible with the workplace.”
Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday this year which means that the vast majority of twenty-something’s have grown up with social media and banning it from the workplace is like chopping off a limb. It’s no wonder then that the study found that millennials are almost twice as likely to defy corporate restrictions on social media sites and apps.
Dr Dimitrious Tsivrikos concluded that “Trust, clear communication and meaningful frameworks are far more effective at facilitating constructive behaviour – both at work and at play.”
It’s clear that businesses cannot simply ignore social media anymore.