Many large companies invest money in IT programmes that block certain websites from use, pretty much any website you have to log in to will be blocked. This seems like a sensible approach at first glance to ensure employees don't just update facebook all day and tweet what their having for lunch but social media is evolving and many high tech and more technology savvy businesses actively encourage the use of social media.
For many types of work there are professional groups on most social media sites which can help the productivity of business. For example often when doing a presentation, creating a spreadsheet or even just trying to figure out how to change something in a word processor it is quicker to be able to access a group and tap into the knowledge of thousands of other industry professionals for advice and support. Whilst Google is great for guides and a simple search query can often eventually find an answer to your particular problem, the time lost trawling through the thousands of entries to find your exact example can be time consuming.
So here are some best practice to allow access to social media whilst ensuring misuse is not promoted:
- Be clear with your employees; explain social media should be used for helping them with any issues they come across to improve both their skills and the efficiency of the tasks they are undertaking.
- Do your homework and find out which sites you may want to grant access to, twitter may not be the best for a programmer but LinkedIn could be ideal to provide them with access to a technical community.
- Empower employees to be responsible; remember by putting in place strict rules and regulations this can harm the overall engagement of the office and make employees feel alienated from your company.
- Begin an internal social network; this can be a place to share best practice and provide cross team collaboration and development which is free and often more useful than scripted external training providers.
And remember if misuse happens then you can deal with that through the appropriate disciplinary procedures. The time taken to address misuse will certainly be less than the time saved by allowing employees to gain useful information to assist them with their job.