The social networking workplace conundrum

A conversation yesterday with someone whose employer blocks access to Facebook and other sites on the social web highlights a real conundrum with such bans, as Scott Adams perceptively illustrates in yesterday’s Dilbert comic strip.

Many employers cite time-wasting as a prime reason for such bans. Some worry about security risks and the threat of bringing in viruses into the corporate environment. Yet Alice in the Dilbert strip spotlights a flip side to such bans when she thinks about what she’ll do when not in the workplace.

And, broadly, that reflects what I heard yesterday in the conversation I mentioned. Not the exact words, but the clear meaning.

I wonder how may others think and act in similar fashion when old workplace control practices collide with newer behaviours and expectations of how you spend your time at work when “at work” has such an evolved meaning today.

Are bans worthwhile? I don’t believe they are at all, other than in workplaces where there is a very clear and obvious reason (hospitals, for example, and even then, an outright ban may not be the best way to address the issue).

For some years, my friend and podcasting colleague Shel Holtz has been at the vanguard of highlighting the issue, arguing a strong case for pros outweighing cons when it comes to enabling employee use of social media in the workplace – take a look at StopBlocking.org (it does wear its heart on its sleeve) and the resources there.

So the Pointy-Haired Boss thinks he has a win. I don’t think so – no one has a win in a situation like that. Everyone loses.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Steve

    I agree in this case people losses instead of winning. By blocking the access to social media is not a way to stop them but actually loosing them.

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