Using Facebook at work can boost productivity

Are your employees underpeforming? Facebook might help (Photo: danoxter via Flickr)

It is the weekend and most employees in the Northern Territory are free to surf the net as much as they please and spend time on social networks.

But should this be the case during business hours as well?

Yes, to a limited degree, says a Melbourne University lecturer.

According to research into productivity, spending five to ten minutes on sites like Facebook between tasks in the office can refresh the mind and prepare it for the next task.

Here is the full report.

Surfing the net good for employee productivty

This report is from Melbourne even though the story is from NTD – a Chinese broadcaster.


I have witnessed mixed views among Top End business people in relation to employee use of Facebook at work. Most are laid back to tolerant (if used during breaks) but some are actively hostile towards the idea due to lost productivity concerns.

Often hostility towards social networking access during office hours is fuelled by:

  • Resentment that ‘I was never allowed to do that when I was younger’
  • Distrust – if I turn my back, they’ll stay on it all daw
  • Fear – Facebook will let viruses enter my network (better cancel email then)
  • Risk – what if they say something actionable
  • Busyness – we are too busy to waste a moment on this nonsense

Ironically, most of those fears are due to management issues, namely, a fear of inability to set employee goals and manage progress towards them. And the last point relating to busyness can be self-defeating, according to the research alluded to in the video.

Furthermore, if we look at the history of all new office communication tools, such as the telephone, we see that the introduction period is shrouded in fear and strict restrictions (many offices in the early days had only one telephone per department and a manager’s signature was needed to gain access to it) before gradually becoming commonplace and then indispensable.

We also learn that just like the Social Customer who bounces questions off her networks around buying decisions, so to the Social Worker uses their extended networks to find solutions to workplace problems.

So what should I do?

As with all things in your business, the correct pathway will usually involve compromise.

Up here, where good employees are scarce and hard to keep, granting access to Social Networks could make you an employer of choice and give you the edge over competitors in developing employee loyalty and committment.

At the same time, employees failing to perform or meet deadlines need to be counselled and dealt with appropriately, whether their underperformance is due to Facebook or smoking or some other ‘distraction’.

HR experts tell us that having a reasonable use policy or some form of policy regarding computer use up front, coupled with training so that everyone understands it, is the best way to manage this new territory effectively.

What is the policy at your company or organisation in the Territory? What do you think it should be?




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