EPS Consultant Maureen Hall, Esq., wrote this article about social media and technology in the workplace.
The continuing explosion of technology – including social networking sites, web-based e-mail and other electronic media – is creating both opportunities and risks for businesses around the globe. In December 2009, 248 million unique users existed on the top eight social networking sites in the US, representing a 41 percent increase from January 2009.1 According to Facebook’s own statistics, more than 200 million users log on to Facebook in any given day, the average Facebook user spends more than 55 minutes per day on the site, and more than 1.5 million businesses have active pages on Facebook.2 Whether employers agree or disagree, the trend is clearly that social networking is here to stay and will continue to impact the workplace in a myriad of ways.
So, what is an employer to do in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks associated with this phenomenon? As you might expect, this question raises a complex and ever-changing host of issues and considerations. No “one size fits all” way exists for employers to address these issues. Some employers may decide that there is no business benefit in allowing access to the sites from work, while others identify tremendous business potential from some of the platforms. Additionally, the changing nature of business and technology will require employers to reevaluate policies and practices on a regular basis. Although each employer must evaluate and develop its technology policies on a case by case basis, this article highlights the factors and considerations relevant to the development of workplace practices and policies.
Recognize the Benefits
Until recently, workplace policies have focused on ways to limit the impact of these websites on employee productivity and business objectives. Most employers assume that there are no upsides to the sites, particularly the social networking sites, which distract employees from work-related tasks and create other problematic issues. Not so, according to many businesses that have harnessed the power of these networks to grow their businesses. Some even claim that the technology promotes the sharing of ideas, encourages employee collaboration, and reduces e-mail clutter.3 For example, LinkedIn offers a “Company Groups” service, which pulls all of a company’s employees into a single Web forum in order to facilitate inter-company communications.4
► Read the full Article