I’m often asked by owner-managers of small and medium sized businesses whether they should allow their employees to access social networks while at work. In the past my answer might have been that if social networking was not central to their work then it would be reasonable to block these sites on the company network to discourage staff from being distracted.
But today, things are different. Social networks are so central to many people ‘s lives that taking away this access is a bit like expecting your staff to adopt a completely different persona while at work. Recent data from a Trend Micro study shows that social networking at work is on the rise and one in three workers in the UK now log on during the working day.
The enlightened leader now appreciates the potential value that can come from allowing staff to access social network while at work. Not only will they be more attuned to trending topics, they’ll also be faster to spot and address potentially unmet customer needs. But that doesn’t mean employees should have carte blanche to do whatever they want. Give your staff a meaningful job to do, with clear and measurable goals to achieve, then give them the space to be smart in figuring out how best to be successful.
Besides, in a world where the majority are now connected online, who’d want to work at a company where staff are expected to unplug themselves from their true selves for eight hours a day? The smart business leaders have worked it out: giving staff full access has shifted from a nice-to-do to a must-do.