Is social networking… Business or Leisure?
As an employee of a large corporate enterprise and an entrepreneurial business owner of a small photography studio, I sometimes wonder if the social networking phenomenon is as wonderful as it seems or if it is a potential drain on productivity and effectiveness.
When one considers the amount of time some folks spend on the social network sites (come on… we just started blogging!) it could be understandable why some corporations have blacklisted sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and others like them. If their employees are *cough* blogging, or uploading photos, or chatting on these sites and not doing their work, is this a risk to their bottom line productivity?
Others may argue that hallway or water fountain (a.k.a. the bubbler) conversations, phone calls, coffee breaks and such are similar to this online activity that may only require spending a few minutes away from the grind, exactly as those previously named activities would.
So… what is the risk? Could a chat session on Facebook consume much more time than a hallway conversation with a co-worker? Could there be risk that someone on one of these sites might be entering information about the company they work for that can not be easily tracked by said company? Could they not do the same thing once they got home anyway? So… seriously. What’s the concern?
There was a time when companies were disabling the games that shipped with PCs as they felt this could be a time waster. Some companies might still be engaging in that very practice when they install their standard image. But does Solitaire pose any particular threat that Google browsing does not? Is it not harmless activity that is simply distracting as so many other activities during the day can be?
Okay… back to the topic at hand. Are these so-called social networks good for business or are they strictly leisure. It seems pretty easy to make the argument that they can definitely be GOOD for business. Networking activities are often seen as opportunities to further develop one’s professional circle. You’ve probably been to some of these meetings… local user groups, forums, chamber of commerce meetings, etc. Can the social networking sites not pose that same opportunity? To meet others that are like-minded and potentially business partners or referral partners?
Sure, they’re intended for leisure, too. But so what? Are we in some new world where business and pleasure MUST not coexist. God… I hope not. (That was a prayer, for those that are not close to Him)
I believe in a healthy work-life balance. I work a lot. But I live a lot, too. Sometimes, mixing business with pleasure is a very good thing. Let’s be mature and responsible about it and leverage these social networking sites for good. They can be good for business while also being good for family and friends and church and fun. Having said that… if they get vulgar or otherwise inappropriate (we CAN be good judges of that, right??), then ban those posts or those people – if they keep it up – or those sites that are promoting that sort of behavior.
How about you? What are your thoughts about this?
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