Thursday, October 30, 2008

Facebook may help workers be more productive

A new study by UK think tank Demos shows that social networking sites like Facebook can help worker become more productive by helping them communicate freely.

However, there's a catch. Employees that spend excessive time surfing Facebook for non-work purposes still need to be managed and informed that the behavior is not acceptable.

On companies that don't allow access to sites like Facebook, the study had this to say:

Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships.

As someone who uses both Facebook and Linkedin, I can see the benefit of being able to see a snapshot of a colleague's life or get an idea of their background if we haven't met before. However, I've also seen people spend too much time on social networking sites, so I'm not sure the benefits would outweigh the risks in all circumstances.


  1. What's the point in using facebook in the first place? It's just a way for the government and corporations to see into your personal life.

  2. I worked for a company that had an internal usenet. Management took a dim view of the employees chatting back and forth while at work, so they cracked down on it. That drove the on-line conversations to external sites and encouraged anonymity on them. The end result is that the same conversations go on now as before. But enlightened management has a harder time keeping a finger on the pulse of the workforce by lurking on the newsgroups. And more than once, some sensitive information has made it on to the outside systems where the world (competitors, federal regulators, etc.) can see them.

  3. @ first poster - "What's the point?"

    1. To some people, the benefits of facebook outweigh the risks of the government knowing your favorite movies.

    2. Limiting the amount of trivial information availiable is NOT the way to fight big brother. If myspace, facebook, and whatever else were to crumble, as they very well might with the impending dotcom bubble 2.0, that's not going to prevent abuses of privacy. You combat this by voting, by raising awareness, by protesting, letter writing, etc.

    To me, it seems kind of like saying "Why would anyone drive on the roads? Your tax money is being used to keep up those roads, and taxes are too high!" Not driving won't lower taxes, and not having a facebook account won't keep you safe from big brother.

  4. MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Caught Twittering or on Facebook at work? It'll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.

    The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.

    Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said "workplace Internet leisure browsing," or WILB, helped to sharpened workers' concentration.

    "People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said on the university's website (

    "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 days' work, and as a result, increased productivity," he said.

    According to the study of 300 workers, 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB.

    Among the most popular WILB activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites, playing online games and watching videos on YouTube.

    "Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity," said Coker. "That's not always the case."

    However, Coker said the study looked at people who browsed in moderation, or were on the Internet for less than 20 percent of their total time in the office.

    "Those who behave with Internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without," he said.