The massive growth of social media has significantly changed the way people communicate at home and at work, making them always alert on their electronic gadget. Social media applications include websites such as Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, Snapchat, Instagram, Second Life, WordPress and ZoomInfo.
Not only has social media changed the way people communicate, but these applications present great opportunities for businesses in the areas of public relations, internal and external communications, recruiting, organisational learning and collaboration.
Available figures show that Google has about 4000 queries per second, with WhatsApp generating one billion groups and 42 billon messages a day; as well as Facebook recording a population of 1.71 billion as at November 2016.
But as with most technologies, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and no single right way for an organisation to use social media applications. The benefits and drawbacks of social networking platforms vary based on platform type, features, industry and the organisation as a whole.
To help throw more light on this, the weekly motivational talk show, the Springboard, on Joy FM, brought two personalities to debate on the topic: Social media websites should be blocked on office networks during work hours.
The two, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Trust Consult, Mr Charles Mensah and the Managing Director (MD) of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Kenneth Ashigbey took difference sides to explain their thought on the topic.
It was the eighth editions of the series, Pros and Cons which is aimed at analysing leadership and human interest issues from different perspectives in a debate format.
Supporting the motion
Speaking for the motion, Mr Mensah underscored that although social media was an enabler to the progress of an organisation, its application made it destructive for employees.
He stated emphatically that it was extremely crucial for social media to be blocked during work hours; this is because there were clear distinctive between work and the use of social media by employees.
At workplace, people often have a short span attention when social media comes to mind; an example is a teller or medical practitioner swaying off work to do social media. This will not help the growth of that organisation.
He indicated that the cost implications of employees using social media at the office on work output were enormous.
There are potential issues created when employees use their personal social media accounts while at the office, possibly affecting productivity, data security and network security.
He cited allowing social media during working hours provided a possibility for hackers to commit fraud and launch spam, as well as virus attacks.
According to him, usage of social media provided the risk of people falling prey to online scams that seem genuine, resulting in data or identity theft or a compromise of the company’s computer security.
He added that permitting social media also created potential outlet for negative comments from employees about the organisation, saying the steady rise of social media was one of the reasons behind increase in gossiping.
“This days, when you look at the ‘millenniumers’ those born post 1992, you will notice that their attention span at the office is 20 minutes on work and five minutes social media,” he said.
Employees urged to stay focus
He urged employees to focus on their work during office hours rather than social media because they were not employed just to do social media.
Mr Mensah explained that the steady decline in productivity in most companies was because of what he described as invisible forces such as the increase usage of social media by employees that prevented the growth of the company.
Despite the business pluses of these sites and tools, they also create issues of security and legal liability for employers and still relatively little case law exists for organisations to turn to when weighing the risks.
Mr Mensah established that the use of social media at workplace by employees for personal use or by the employer as an official tool could open up organisations to a number of challenges.
Against the motion
For his part, Mr Ashigbey mentioned that most multinational companies were using social media productively to deliver results worldwide.
“KLM for example responds to every question that comes on social media and they are using it to push the boundaries. Therefore, the era where we look at social media as a destructive tool is long gone because it is now a business media,” he said.
Another vital application of social media by employers is its use as a knowledge-sharing platform with employees at all levels using blogs, microblogs ‘similar to Twitter’ expert directories and communities of practice.
Mr Ashigbey underscored that these tools and groups turned social media into collaborative tools to improve work productivity and workflow, hence it should be encouraged.
Advantage of social media
Figures from statistical.com for instance shows that internet has recorded 3.5 billion users as at 2015 of which 2.1 billion of these users have access to social media account and it is projecting that by end of 2016, the usage will increase to 2.34 billion.
According to him, social media offers the world a lot of advantages which is helping the growth of business and also provides an opportunity to widen business contacts
Touching on workers morale, the managing director said the usage of social media was an important factor to boost employee’s confidence at workplace.
Social media facilitates open communication, leading to enhanced information discovery and delivery at workplace. Allows employees to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions and share links.
It also improves business reputation and client base with minimal use of advertising. Expands market research, implements marketing campaigns, delivers communications and directs interested people to specific websites.