Bridging Two Worlds

A conversation about online media and what it means to your organization

Work With It, Not Against It

Posted by B2W on November 3, 2008

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

I was watching Canada AM this morning and they were talking about a new study done by Demos, The Think Tank For Everyday Democracy, out of the UK.  Titled: Network Citizens: Power and Responsibility at Work, this study looks at the value and challenges of social networking sites such as Facebook for organizations.  For the study, the authors (Peter Bradwell and Richard Reeves) did an in-depth study of six organizations and puts forward some interesting points about the use and opportunity of social networks within a business and collaboration context.

While the study itself is very interesting – and by the way you can download here for free – I have to admit that seeing the response from both the Canada AM team and callers was even more interesting to me.

Overall, the response was that people who use social networks at work are wasting the organization’s time. To me, that’s old paradigm thinking. The fact is, people are on social networks at work, if they aren’t blocked. And, if they are blocked at work, they are on them at home – and like it or not they probably are talking about your organization, their bosses, their coworkers and other work-related “stuff.”

That train has left the station. Social networking is here and it’s highly popular…instead of throwing it aside and ignoring it as a time waster, we need to better understand not just how to use it and create value, but to see how it can facilitate collaboration, connection and community.  We need to work with it, not ignore it or work against it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that professionalism goes out the window and that it’s ok for an employee to mess around on Facebook during work hours. But, there is a balance to be achieved. One of the first things we do when working with clients is to review or establish their online policy, and we do that realistically. People use the Internet at work for personal reasons, just like they use the telephone – it happens, and we need to work the reality of that into how the situation is viewed.

What I am saying is that by seeing social networking as of no consequence or a waste of employee time, we’re not “getting it.” There are huge opportunities and big challenges out there…we won’t recognize either one of them if we are viewing them through a dated lens.

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