If a report from Australia is to be believed, Facebook costs Australian businesses AUS$5 billion a year in lost productivity.
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
[…] Richard Cullen of SurfControl, an internet filtering company, [says] “Our analysis shows that Facebook is the new, and costly, time-waster.”
[…] The report calculates that if an employee spends an hour each day on Facebook, it costs the company more than $6200 a year. There are about 800,000 workplaces in Australia.
“There are Facebook groups dedicated to slacking off at work,” Dr Cullen said. “Some of them are specific to employees of a single company.”
If this overall story stretches your credulity, there is a bit of balance.
The same newspaper has another report (which contains more or less the same content as this one) which says:
“Some employers are blocking the sites, while others have embraced the new, global networking capability and are setting down times when it’s acceptable to Facebook,” Dr Cullen said.
“If appropriate filters are in place, employees are able to use sites like Facebook and Myspace in their downtime without putting the network at risk.”
That’s the bit I’d pay more attention to.
The report discusses how US workers aged 35 and over are discovering Facebook and how they use it.
An interesting factoid:
The number of unique Facebook visitors 35 and older more than doubled in June from a year ago, to 11.5 million, according to market researcher comScore Media Metrix. (Anyone going to the Facebook.com site counts as a visitor. But to have a page or have friends, you need to join.) Most newcomers aren’t yet doing much real business there, preferring more buttoned-down sites like LinkedIn or e-mail for maintaining professional contacts. But they’re intrigued enough with the communications potential of Facebook that they now make up 41% of the site’s visitors.
A far more useful feature to read about Facebook.