Business

Social media ban at work not such a good idea

By Shamille Scott Business Reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 04, 2014    

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It may not be a good idea to ban employees from social media during work hours, says Gale Peart, CEO of Caribbean Fortress Limited.

Almost half of the managers in one of last Tuesday's afternoon session at the Make Your Mark Middle Managers' conference say their companies set up firewalls to prevent their employees from accessing social media at the office.

"Evidence suggest that banning doesn't stop social media use; it kills morale," said Peart. "Workers have their own devices anyway."

Ostensibly, blocking workers was done to prevent time wasting and breech of company security.

Contrastingly, some companies are using internal social media platform -- known also as enterprise social network -- to improve their performance as well as workers' productivity. Such platforms are currently used by Dell and Cisco.

Internal social media platforms expedited the dissemination of time-sensitive information, such as upgrades and announcements; reduce the time to respond to queries, improved team effectiveness, explained the social media expert.

Moreover, it reduces the reliance on third party social media tools that are moving away from premium to paid services, consequently putting the company in control of its budget, Peart added.

In the end, you own the data that is shared among workers and customers.

"You are basically encouraging team members to be creative, and once they feel like their ideas are valued, you will have increased productivity," Peart said.

Moreover, your internal social enterprise network can be customised to give customers access to the portal, learn about new products and services before they hit the market, and get rewards, for instance.

"Customers love to feel privileged, so giving them their unique log-in to get your information is a plus," said Peart.

Once customers are satisfied, they will become a big evangelist for your company, she reasoned. Citing findings of an American study in 2012, the social media expert said Americans spent 74 billion minutes or 20 per cent of their time on social media sites.

It's not clear how much time Jamaican workers spend on social media during office hours.

When asked how many managers at the conference understood the value of social media or had a social media account, the response was negligible.

Global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimates that middle managers who use social media technologies in their everyday work could save 20 to 25 per cent of their time to solve real business problems.

Still, the decision to incorporate social enterprise into the workplace would have to be inline with the company's core values, mission statement, and business model as well as enhance creativity.

"It depends on the company, but there might be a better return if your company is heavily interested in marketing," said Peart.

As for micro and small businesses, that don't currently have the funds for a enterprise social platform, Peart suggests that they use free social media in the interim.

She told managers at the conference that social media can be used as a productivity centre, and companies can leverage platforms such as pinterest, hoodsuite, and google docs - platforms that enable the sharing of information.

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