Is Facebook or YouTube blocked at your office? If so – you’re not alone. And if not… well, they just might be someday soon. According to a 2014 workplace survey by Proskaeur, employee access to social media in the workplace is steadily declining.
The Proskaeur survey revealed that 36 percent of employers block social networks at the office, which is a 7 percent increase from 2012.
And while social sites might not be physically blocked, social media use at work is still frowned upon by a growing number of employers. The amount of companies who allow their employees to access social media at work has dropped 10 percent in just one year — from 53 all the way down to 43 percent.
So what gives with the restricted internet access? Are employers in the right here – does social media really interfere with work performance? Or are they being overzealous?
Let’s take a look at social media work productivity, how it helps, how it hurts and how to find a healthy balance.
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How Social Media Helps Increase Work Productivity
Actually, taking a short break to browse your Facebook feed or adding a couple of new pins to your Pinterest board is likely to help you clear your head and return to your work refreshed.
Times have changed. And today’s college graduates enter the workplace having grown up with technology, so it doesn’t really make sense to suddenly strip them of their rights to access it.
A recent study by American Express and Millennial Branding concurs, finding that nearly 70 percent of Gen Y workers feel entitled to social media access at work with minimal restrictions.
So in short, blocking social media completely is probably not the best solution for employers who want high morale and low employee turnover.
Social Media Addiction: Too Much of a Good Thing
While taking periodic brain breaks can help improve your productivity…too much social media usage has the opposite effect. Social media addiction is a very real thing – as real as drug or alcohol addiction. And it’s becoming more common than ever.
On average, nearly 20 percent of social media users say they can’t go more than a few hours without checking Facebook. Around 28 percent of iPhone owners check their Twitter feed first thing in the morning – before brushing their teeth or even getting out of bed.
This inherent need to stay connected doesn’t just carry over to the workplace…it can potentially overpower workplace responsibilities. AdWeek reports that between 60 to 80 percent of the time employees spend on the internet at work has nothing to do with work.
Social media addiction doesn’t just derail your ambition…it can negatively impact your mood as well.
Many different studies have found that obsessively checking social media sites like Facebook or Instagram can actually make you feel less happy. This is due to the fact that continuously sharing our lives and following the lives of others makes us feel compelled to “keep up with the Joneses.”
We want to know more about those we follow and have our followers learn more about us – but in the midst of it all, we may start to envy others’ lives and resent the public image we feel forced to maintain.
That surge of stress and accompanying drop in self-worth can make it really hard to focus on anything – work included.
4 Ways to Balance Work and Social Media
1) Allow Yourself Short Breaks to Browse Social
The best way to balance work and social media is to limit your consumption. Build scheduled breaks into your day to catch up on your most-loved social networks.
Try taking a 10-minute break in the morning and another in the afternoon. Make sure to hold yourself accountable and cap your browsing when that time is up. And if you really need more time to tweet, snap, pin or gram… set some time aside during your lunch break.
2) Use Social Media as a Resource
Social media can make a great resource for just about any industry. Follow relevant blogs and Twitter accounts and subscribe to recommended YouTube channels.
Of course, cat memes and hilarious viral videos can help boost your mood and lower your stress levels – but following informative, educated content may actually help you get ahead at work and stay there.
3) Remember That You Represent Your Company
When it comes to social media, it’s best to post with caution. Don’t forget that even when you’re not clocked in… you are representative of your brand or business.
Employees have been fired for personal social posts that reflect poorly on their employer. Just this summer, Gerod Roth, a Polaris Market Group employee, was fired from the Atlanta office over a Facebook post.
Roth was a white man who snapped a photo with a co-worker’s cute kid…who happened to be a little black boy. After the photo went live, Roth’s friends began making comments on the photo, insinuating that he was a slave owner and the little boy was his slave.
The post went viral and, even though Roth had not made any derogatory remarks himself, the Polaris Market Group terminated him as an employee.
4) Social Media Guidelines in The Company Handbook
Since social media is still fairly new (and evolving every single day), it can be somewhat of a gray area at many companies. If you’re unsure of what is appropriate in terms of social media usage, posting, etc., ask for clarification.
Speak to your manager or human resources director about putting official guidelines in place. They may even ask for your insight in helping them create guidelines that are fair and beneficial to all.
Does Social Media Lower Workplace Productivity?
The restriction of social media use at work is on the rise. While some social media usage can be beneficial to employees on the clock, it can also hinder their performance.
This is because social media is highly addictive and can interfere with mood and productivity. But blocking all social media sites might not be the best answer.
When it comes to social media work productivity, the key is definitely balance. To stay connected… but also stay on track during your work day, it’s important to take scheduled breaks as opposed to sitting on Facebook for hours on end.
It’s also a good idea to follow relevant industry accounts and be mindful of the stuff you share on your personal account. And if you’re unsure about on-the-clock usage or appropriate content to post, check with your company about official social media guidelines.
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