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Why corporates should force Facebook usage

Many positive and negative things have been said about the banning of Facebook access at corporate workspaces. But corporates seriously need to wake up to the fact that they are doing themselves an injustice by trying to control their employees’ online behaviour — even if it is during office hours — and would be far better off trying rather to encourage prolific online usage.

If you’re the boss, tell your people to get on to Facebook. Here is why:

  • 1. If you don’t, your employees will do other “non-work” stuff anyway. As do you. Don’t worry, it’s good for you.
    Online Media Daily reports that

    Senior executives were even more likely to play at the office — with just more than a third (34%) of CEOs, CFOs and other upper-management types admitting they played casual online games on company time. While playing puzzle, word or other casual online games at work could be categorised as a distraction, the effects actually seemed to be beneficial to productivity, according to the survey. Some 84% of white-collar workers who admitted to playing at the office said they felt “more relaxed and less stressed out” after a short game break, and 52% reported feeling more confident, more energetic, more productive and/or more mentally focused.

  • 2. It creates goodwill
    It’s tough enough that we have to go to work every day. Going to work in an environment that immediately shouts that it does not trust us to perform our job, or earn our salary’s worth, is demeaning.

    There is a contract of understanding between employer and employee: the former pays the latter to perform a job function, with certain parameters. The employee should be trusted to be able to deliver the expected results, period. Rarely does the employer pay for time worked — rather, he pays for jobs delivered. The distinction should be clear, and honoured by both sides.

    What the employer does not want to do is promote a feeling of negativity in the employee, because it will brew and explode one day. And you can run, but you cannot hide. Unilever — which bans Facebook access — asked an employee to change his Facebook photo, because it offended the shareholder. Now there is a blog posting about it here. (And here!)

  • 3. It levels the playing field
    Any corporate should shy away from the “us vs you” battle, when it comes to employees (or customers, for that matter). Rather, the corporate culture should be one of “we’re in this together, working towards a common and specific goal, in a manner as conducive to that result as possible”.

    And perhaps at first it might seem as if Facebook access isn’t conducive to this at all, but really, it’s not for the big boss to decide. If an employee gets pleasure out of Facebooking, and still delivers on the above-mentioned expectations, all power to him or her.

  • 4. It allows employees to become internet savvy
    And trust me, in this flat world we live in, you want your employees to be as savvy as possible. You want the smartest, most connected, most verbal people on your staff. Why? Because if not now, then soon, your competitor will want them too.

    And you want them now. Because they know the company, they know your goals, failures and strategies. And they have their fingers on the pulse of the web — when sometimes you don’t even know there is even a pulse. They might suggest — or push — you into becoming active in an area with which you don’t feel particularly comfortable. They might tell you where your next customers are coming from, and how best to reach them.

    Facebook isn’t the last-big-thing-ever on the internet

  • . It’s simply the big thing now. And social-media interaction skills, or any online usage skills for that matter, follow from what was learnt on previous platforms. Arthur Goldstuck talks about the “five-year user experience”, which basically means that you only become an apt and keen online user after five years of online usage.

    Don’t stifle your employees today. You might need them on top form tomorrow!

  • 5. It really can be good for the company
    For starters, as already mentioned, it allows for more internet-savvy employees.

    It allows you to learn more about your employees, and potential customers, on an individual and group level.

    It also allows for more connected employees. Because although Anna in accounting will connect with her second cousin in Australia, she will also connect with the sales manager on the floor below — because they both like the same fish in their Facebook aquarium.

    And of course, Anna will also connect with the people she met at that conference you sent her to last month — maybe the keynote speaker is now her “friend”.

Whether you are the boss of a five-person start-up or of a mammoth 500-person conglomerate, you must give your people the chance to structure time-management skills around their ideal working day. As long as they continue to deliver, ensure that they do so in the happiest state of mind possible.

If they don’t deliver, have plans of action targeted at an individual employee, not the entire workforce.

And don’t forget that anybody with a relatively new phone and a keen interest can access Facebook at any time, at work or home. After all, if you get an email saying “So-and-so has sent you a message on Facebook”, you are going to check it out right now, or die of curiosity.

And you don’t want dead employees. So let them Facebook, already!


  • Eve Dmochowska spends her day playing on and with the Internet, and thinks it is a rather fun way to make money. She is the founder of Crowdfund, a crowd sourced fund to help local online startups get off the ground, and of the Geekspace, Joburgs first hot desking space for geeks. She is also the co-founder of The Broadband Bible which helps SAfricans find the perfect ADSL plan and the Airtime Bible, which compares the costs of cellphone contracts.

One Comment

  1. John Doe John Doe 5 November 2007

    I have people in the office who use facebook , they do no work , they sit on it the whole day and frustrates the rest of us. Its counter productive and an excuse not to work. Facebook does nothing to improve office morale or productiveness. Ban it at work , play it at home. Theres a reason why you call it going to WORK.

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