Businesses block access to social networking sites

Social networking a productivity killer, some companies believe

Nearly one in four US businesses block employee access to social networking Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace, according to a survey of about 200 human resources professionals.

With the number of Americans using social networking sites tripling in recent years, use of such sites has grown during work hours. People ages 35 and older are using MySpace and Facebook in droves.

"Many companies look the other way," but others view social networking as a "productivity killer," says Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consulting firm that surveyed human resources pros at a recent conference hosted by the US Society for Human Resource Management.

"While many companies do not view social networking as a threat to productivity, one in three survey respondents said their companies consider the sites a major drain on worker output," Challenger says. "Twenty-three per cent of companies block access to these sites entirely."

Eight per cent of companies actually encourage employees to use social networking sites, and 10 per cent say they are invaluable marketing, networking and sales tools. Banning use of sites could also make it hard to recruit young employees.

To get a real recruiting edge, business should integrate social networking and other Web 2.0 tools "into every facet of the organization, from marketing to internal employee communication," Challenger says.

Most companies aren't formally addressing social networking sites. Fifty-nine percent do not have a formal policy on using the sites during work hours. Nearly half said social networking isn't a problem as long as employees get their work done.

Formal corporate policies on social networking are scarce because it is such a new phenomenon, Challenger, Gray & Christmas say, noting a Pew Research survey that found the proportion of Americans using such sites has risen from 7 per cent to 22 per cent since 2005.

The Challenger firm also quoted a study from UK-based IT security firm Global Secure System, which said employees are spending 30 minutes or more per work day on social networking sites. Viruses and leaking of confidential data are among the dangers raised by heavy usage.

"Lost productivity is not the only reason some organizations ban or limit the use of social networking at the office," the Challenger firm states. "These sites produce an extra demand on bandwidth. They also pose a security risk for corporate networks, making company systems vulnerable to hackers and viruses. There is also the potential for employees to leak corporate secrets or damage the company's image due to the content of their personal profiles."

More than two-thirds of IT pros surveyed by Network World last December said they use social networking sites. IT pros were most likely to use the professional networking site LinkedIn, but Facebook and MySpace were popular, too.

IT pros spent more time on the sites for business reasons rather than for play, and numerous organizations have seen business value in these tools. Vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and a number of start-ups have responded with social networking tools for the workplace. Vendor InsideView lets customers integrate social networking tools with business intelligence software.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?