Apr 28, 2011

Social Networking, or Notworking?

Social media is a syringe that sucks time out of our daily work. In fact, some companies have banned social media from the workplace altogether, and for good reason. Over half of all employees access their Facebook profiles at work, losing, on average, 15 minutes of productivity per day.

But wait. You might be surprised to hear that employees who use social media (also known as Tworkers) also tend to be the most productive. According to one university study, employees who surf the Internet at work, including social networks, are 9% more productive than their non-Internet surfing counterparts.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you (like me) classify yourself as a Tworker. Tworkers are thinkers. Tworkers are resourceful. Tworkers know how to get it done. And everyone knows that Tworkers make better employees, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Putting aside the productivity statistics, social media use raises some ethical (and, yes, even spiritual) questions for today’s savvy worker. Here are just a few:

 Is it fair to our employers to engage in social media when we’re “on the clock”? 

For those of us who have flexible work schedules (or even work at home), does social media compromise our attention span and mental capacity?

Are we sitting behind our computers so much that we miss out on opportunities to develop relationships with our co-workers? 

If we are always preoccupied with blogging and social media sites, do we give an appearance of impropriety, or even laziness at work? 

Aside from these ethical issues, don't you ever wonder if Blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting, to be blunt, are just a huge waste of  time? To be good at it, to stay connected and witty and relevant and generous with your online community, you’ve got to commit. Unless social media is your livelihood, this is time that could be better spent doing something else, like communicating with real, live people. Or finishing that project your boss asked you to do. Or getting more work done around the house.

Sometimes the irony of it all smacks me right in the face. Like during a recent conference. We broke for lunch, and I couldn’t contain my glee when I learned the hotel had free wireless. Yippee! I could spend my lunch hour catching up on my blogging and even send a few Tweets! Then it dawned on me. I’m here to network with people, not sit behind a computer. What’s the best use of my time? I should probably introduce myself to that woman in the back of the room. I think I recognize her.

Reluctantly, I closed my laptop and put it away. It was time to do some real live social networking. Remember what that was like?

Post by Susan DiMickele. Image by John Thurm. Used with permission via Flickr.

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