Social media is now so ingrained in our culture it’s almost impossible to get away from. Almost everyone has a Facebook page or a YouTube account, and people are constantly updating statuses or sharing media with each other. Just checking to see what’s new can be addicting and continually entertaining. The first thing many people do when they’re bored is log on. This is often the case at work, too. Unless your workplace filters online content, using social media can be a strong temptation. If you log on at work, will your productivity suffer? Or can it be a good thing? There are pros and cons to social media in the workplace.
Social media use can promote a fun and laidback work atmosphere. Employees might be happier and more relaxed if they know it’s not a big deal if they want to check their messages or post a quick status update. If use is restricted, they might feel they are being treated like children rather than trusted to properly manage their time.
While employees are using social media at work, they will often share what they see and do with their colleagues. They might share a laugh together or be inspired to have a discussion. This can help bring them closer together and build a better working relationship. If they feel more comfortable with each other because using social media helped them get to know each other better, those good vibes will extend into their collaborative efforts at work.
It might seem counterintuitive, but social media use on the job can help increase productivity. It has to be kept to a reasonable level, of course, but taking a break is always beneficial. Rather than step outside for a moment or get a cup of coffee, employees can use social media during their breaks, and then they can come back feeling refreshed and better able to finish tackling their work.
Sometimes people just need some fresh ideas, and social media is a great way to inspire creative thinking. An employee might come up with a great new marketing strategy after watching a viral video, or discover a business they want to collaborate with after a friend “likes” it.
The opposite of camaraderie is also possible when social media is used at work. Employees could find it harder to work with each other if they object to each other’s use of social media or posting practices. Viral “jokes” about colleagues or work could be taken as offensive rather than funny. If disagreements occur because of social media it can translate into a hostile work environment and negatively affect working relationships and productivity.
If employees regularly use social media at work, it will eventually affect the company’s image. If they are goofing off too much, the company as a whole might not be taken seriously. Employees are direct representatives of the company, so their use of social media at work will say something about it, too. It can hurt the company if employees post negative remarks about their workday, or if they share anything pessimistic.
Social media use at work can also potentially breach security if an employee shares any confidential material. Leaks could help competitors get an upper hand, or make clients and customers lose trust in the company. Overzealous posting and commenting could hurt the company’s integrity.
Before you allow unlimited access to social media in the workplace, consider all the risks and benefits for your employees and your company. If you allow social media, make sure to go over with employees what is expected of them.
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