Should Twitter, Youtube & Facebook be Banned from the Workplace?

Do social media tools, channels and sites pose a threat to the quality of work produced in the workplace? Do we realize the actual negative outcomes of using social media within working hours? Is it morally unethical to spend a portion of the 8 to 9 daily working hours utilizing social media for personal use? Do you think social media use should be completely banned from the workplace?

The Web's top visited sites are social media sites - should they be banned at the workplace?

The Web's top visited sites are social media sites - should they be banned at the workplace?

Whether it be Facebook, Mixx, Reddit, Digg, Youtube, Twitter or any other social media channel of your preference, it is a fact that most of the tools, sites and channels, which flourished as a result of Web 2.0, are of a time-consuming nature. Naturally, if you are to waste your own private time working around those channels; sharing information, watching clips, meeting new people, chatting or listening to music, then it would be acceptable. But what about when your utilization of those channels gets out of your own room, home and free time and steps into your working hours?

The way I see it, and from personal experience, unless your job description dictates that you utilize social media for public relations, marketing, promotion, engagement and interaction with potential clients, social media could cause severe discrepancies between the quality of work you do and the quality of work that should be achieved!

Why would that happen?

Allow me to present you with the 5 top reasons why I am completely against the use social media within the workplace:

  1. Lack of Concentration/Focus: Regardless of how multifunctional or multitasking one thinks he/she is, it is a fact that the human brain works at its maximum potential during its default state i.e, its resting hours. The more the strain applied to the brain, the less its ability to make sound decisions. Therefore, and when we apply this to someone trying to juggle the daily tasks of a full-time job in addition to sneaking a few peaks into Facebook’s friends’ updates, tweeting some topics here and there or secretively watching a clip on Youtube, the result can not be anything but a lower overall performance level.
  2. Unethical Conduct: Whether you are a manager, a junior or a senior employee, whatever your responsibilities are, you have certain obligations and specific working hours which need to be fulfilled at your maximum potential. Ethically, you are getting paid for the numbers of hours agreed upon or previously dictated by the labor law. Therefore, it becomes a rather ethical dilemma when you use that time for personal entertainment and you still get paid for it!
  3. Jealousy: Let’s assume that you are a fast employee; you finish your daily duties within a more efficient time frame. Why not use this extra time left to utilize social media channels? Sadly, human beings are of a jealous nature and thus will be your fellow employees. This jealousy amongst employees might eventually lead to an unbalanced work environment later on and which in turn has the power to reduce collective outcome!
  4. Mistrust: Social media tools have been used for the “wrong” reasons at many levels and on many occasions. Utilizing social media tools within working hours could actually lead to a build up of a nonfunctional and doubtful relationship between the employee and the employer!
  5. Other Dangers: Given the large number of viruses, hackers, spam and trojans waiting anxiously to attack your PC or laptop, you must always be cautious of what sites you click, which clips you watch and what content you download. Social media, regretfully, helps the spread of those vicious attackers especially given the integrated networks used in offices. Your workstation should be treated with care and respect for security reasons as well.

After having read my analysis about this subject, do you agree that social media use should be banned from the workplace? Otherwise, how do you propose a better utilization of social media within working hours?

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    Good luck trying to ban or block social networks at work . the genie is out ! well given what i said earlier on here they will face a tough time banning it now, plus we worked so hard to convince them its for work purposes but that general lack of control over the medium and increased risk of disclosure that is making the corporate world take two steps back before jumping into the social networks twister game :)

  • Riaz

    By me being able to “socialise” on the internet during, it made it possible for me to read your blog, no one would read half of the articles on the internet during non working hours, internet activity, scoiual networking, blogging, youtubing, are all more popular because of guys at their pc at work, do you really think sites like digg.com would be as popular if was banned during working hours? really?

  • http://www.freerepublic.com/~forgivensinner/ jjvors

    Generally agree with you. our company's policy on phone, web, and email usage is pretty clear and fair:

    1. You are expected to work a minimum of 8 hour per day (management employees).
    2. You may use the phone, web, and email for personal use as long as it does not affect your work.
    3. Certain web sites are banned; all web usage is monitored; all email is monitored. All email belongs to the company, as do the computers and phones, and all communication involving them is company property.

    These policies are stated the day you are hired and repeated annually in a required corporate ethics course.

  • Gah

    As long as I and anyone else can be fired, fined or on anyway punished by our employers for the things that we say and or do when we are off the clock with our social media accounts I see no reason to not do those things on the clock. If, from my employers point of view I have they have control over my private life then from my point of view I have no reason to play a game of double standards with with someone who acts like they own me.

    People are constantly being fired, fined, having their hours cut, etc because of something they said on one of their many social networking sites. People have been fired for the simple crime of having had an exciting social life while they were college years before they even considered interviewing for their current position. Quite frankly I see no reason that I should ever submit my social networking information to anyone I work for or work with, it is too big of a risk.

    Beirut I realise that your educational background taught you that employees are beholden to their employers, however, I should like to point out that truthfully a manager is only going to know that you are on a social networking site during your shift if your employer is themselves on the same social networking site and knows your login and is checking up on your behaviour looking for something. As to the loss of productivity, everything supposedly decreases productivity just like everything will kill you. According to the actual scientific data from sociol0gists (sorry I don't remember the text offhand) the only thing that has actually worked at improving performance was discovered accidentally. That being that when employees work in an environment in which they feel good about themselves and they feel that they are favoured by their supervisor they will work harder regardless of the obstacles that are put in place. In the experiment the researchers dimmed the lights for a week, productivity went up, they turned off the heat in winter, productivity went up this went on for months baffling the researchers until they finally broke down and asked. The employees said that they figured they were being watched because they were the bosses favourite shift. That one fact is the reason they worked hard. Treating employees like slaves and trying to control the way they think how they behave and using scare tactics on them is only going to increase the turnover rate of those employees that are actually capable of getting other jobs.

  • mustafiz

    yes it should be banned from the workplace….well office computer is not for personal use, and if its required so…its all upto the management.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Welcome to our blog and thank you for your comment and input.

    I agree with you that employees should have access to personal phone, web and e-mail only if they are worthy of the trust to do so without affecting the quality of their work.

    Your company seems to appreciate its employees and value their space and the fact that they need some time off during working hours, this is highly recommended and valued depending on the employees and their commitment.

    Best of luck and I hope your policies pay off the way you intended them to.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Thank you for the detailed and logical reply. I do have to argue with you about something though: you said “Beirut I realize that your educational background taught you that employees are beholden to their employers…” This is not the case. I have been working for many years now and never have I felt “scared” from any employer or manager. My environment and education taught me to do best as a result of my moral obligation and personal motivation.

    I agree with you about something though: usually, the more you feel favored and appreciated at the workplace, the higher your performance level because human beings do enjoy praise and recognition as one of their natural instincts.

    Finally, my aim from this article was not in any way to “take away” any part of employee rights, it was merely an effort to try to point out the fact that yes, some people do not understand freedom and will take it too far and that is not acceptable especially when you are getting paid to perform a certain job and yet fail to do so because of personal entertainment!

    Remember: for every rule, there are exceptions!

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    So let me ask you a trick question: what if you are using your own personal laptop at the office place? Could you then spend as much time as you please surfing the net and using social media? :)

  • RonWallace

    Great points. God forbid we should ever need laws for such things but, as a corporate decision, why not?

  • mustafiz

    if u r using ur personal laptop, its all on u… do do the office work first or ur personal work at the office at office times….

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    I can see Riaz point here, I guess it has to do with the nature of the long working hours most of us carry. I mean for someone to stay alerted at work for 8 hours is just a tough job. There should always be some enjoyable breaks every other hour, and if it has to be a social engagment on one of the avaialble sites, then be it! I think like jjvors, some freedoms that make the employees feel better would actually trannslate in better productivity. Sure, I can also see Beirut's point of how some people abuse their freedoms, but the one to blame here is the management not the avaiablity of social networking.

    When you are at a job, you are accountable to deliver your tasks in a good quality and quantity. Whether you abused the available resources, that is irrelevent, because it would show in your performance reviews and thus tranlsated into your future in the company.

  • Margaret

    I dont understand the fuss behind social networking being blocked in companies…
    Helloooo…we are not kids.. grown ups with proper understanding of our priorities.
    I work in an organisation whr social networking is not blocked. Except for few selected others are dedicated workers. Open Facebook, twitter etc only when thr work is completed.
    Concentration, Focus, Ethics etc. shouldn't be forced on people; it should come from within an individual. If I can't concentrate and someone forces me to do so, How much concentration do you think i ll hv by the end of the day.
    Besides i feel not blocking social networking sites will keep employees more into work. Coz while being at work they are in touch fnrds. SO you dont have ur employees rushing out of office at the exact logout time..
    In Addition, blocking such sites ll hv negative impact on employees moral. What about the Trust we always try to build. When you block something you actually impose rules on people. Let people choose for themselves. Give them the freedom to choose and You ll be surprised at the End Result!!!

  • aalia

    I strongly disagree with you on this. I believe in trusting employees to do the right thing. The more you reward and trust your employees with privileges such as access to social networks the less they will take advantage and abuse that trust. Taking these privileges away gives the message that you don't trust your employees enough to use them sensibly.

  • Margaret

    I agree with you..
    coz i hv experienced it first hand… As long as the company was fair with us, we were dedicated employees..I wish I could be more specific on it, but since I still work 4 the company i restrain myself a little, once the bond of trust is broken, it takes ages to join it again and sometimes that trust can never be built again.

  • http://twitter.com/galkinelli Alex Galkin

    I generally agree, that certain SM practices are counter-productive in the workplace. However, it is not a “black or white” situation. I have seen some serious Wall Street traders use Facebook, and Twitter is… Twitter. If you represent your company, then using Twitter is essential. It gives your followers (i.e. your company followers) a clear, transparent image of you and your company. Think Scott Monty at Ford. Also, SM becoming the only media out there, as the old ways of information gathering are becoming outdated, so banning SM is like banning Yahoo. Here is an awesome technology company SM platform that is not only advisable, but critical to use at work if you are a programmer. (Sorry long talk, but worth it) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWHfY_lvKIQ

    Great job on Twitter by the way!
    -Alex

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    As long as you are honest and get all your work done – whether from home or your desk – no one can accusing of wasting corporate time. Actually, the way I see it, if your work involves a lot of research online, your PC should have these limitations lifted. In many cases, I start researching on Youtube! It’s just an easier and sometimes faster way to absorb information.

    But again, did people really work 8 out of 8 hours a day before social media?

  • http://shesawake.blogspot.com loripop326

    This is a really interesting post.

    For me, personally, the line between personal use of my work laptop and work use of my personal laptop has been blurred beyond reason. Part of my actual job is to spend time surfing the net. However, with all of the blocks that my company has placed on the use of internet to stop the kind of time-wasting that you're referring to, it gets more and more difficult to do those portions of my job that require online accesses. It's simply easier to save those portions of my workload for home.

    Oddly, while I can't access any streaming media sites, for instance – even those which I need, I can still access all of the social media sites from work – within reasonable limits as set corporately. I have no problem with this. The research that I have to do for work gets done at home, and if I happen to have some spare time at work, my trade-off is to make use of the social media sites.

    There are days when I rarely get on Twitter, and days when I am tweeting regularly. It depends on the day and on my workload. I try to make sure that it's balanced out. I also don't take overtime for the time spent working from home if my day in the “office” has been spent partially on personal stuff.

    Can the use of social media be an issue in the workplace? Hell, yes.

    For me it boils down to what I feel good about doing. If I'm not 'scamming' the company, then I'm good with that, and they seem to be as well.

    Unfortunately, not everyone is that honest.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    As long as you are honest and get all your work done – whether from home or your desk – no one can accuse you of wasting corporate time. Actually, the way I see it, if your work involves a lot of research online, your PC should have these limitations lifted. In many cases, I start researching on Youtube! It's just an easier and sometimes faster way to absorb information.

    But again, did people really work 8 out of 8 hours a day before social media?

  • kimemelle

    I agree. Last month, I lost my job because of a simple comment I made on Facebook about liking the job, but not my co-workers. They were childish bullies and I did not socialize with them, only business, hello and goodbye. The job was like a reality tv show and I was voted off. I was recognized for jobs well done, came to work everyday (most had drama and on an average worked of 3 days of week, instead of 5 and had negative vacation days). I was told just the week before that I had an exceptional work, never problems, never had to be on any type of leave, never need a pay advance, and was very respectful of clients. I had gone back to college and am on the dean's list. The excutive director was actually pretty weak and easily influenced by these childish bullies who were threated by not only me doing well in school, but also being recognized on the job, and work ethics.

    They stalked me, (why would they have been going to my personal Facebook page??!!) obviously rambled though my desk when I was not in the office, and I was actually looking for a new job, that was I was more worthier of. There was no reason that I should have lost my job over the statement.

    I was the cause of too much resentment, honestly maybe I could have included them or been more personal, to appease them, but they were mean spirited children who spoke badly of people, other co-workers, made fun of other women and gossiped viciously. Not to mention, took advantage of the work system. They wanted to be divas, not workers and that's unacceptable- ugly and nasty. But yet I was fired and they are still there, which is the same place they had been for over 10 years ( I had been there 4 and was not planning on it being my final “resting place”). I still can't believe that this, actually, as many offenses as they have committed against each other or clients. That after all my dedication and everything I did to help them improve their health and lose weight (I'm vegetarian)!!!! I was looking to do the right thing (because I always keep karma in mind), because I believe you'll be rewarded for it- What a joke!!! a real embarrassment!!!!

    I am now speaking with lawyers who, after reviewing the page/comment, absolutely can not believe that I was fired for that simple comment I made on Facebook and agrees that there must be a personal issue that ignited the terminiation. My case looks good- and I may settle for $300,000.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    You have an interesting story and you indeed deserve the $300k if all you did is leave a simple comment and got fired.

    I'm curious to know: Do Facebook comments stand as solid evidence in court? If not, then the company had no reason for firing you (do they have other reasons?) and you're getting your 300k…

    Thanks for stopping by Thoughtpick :)

  • http://edwardboches.com/banning-employees-from-social-media-is-insane Social media is good for employees | Creativity_Unbound

    [...] These philistines of the business world remain convinced that time spent on social networks can only serve to jeopardize office productivity. [...]

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