Is Facebook good for the workplace?

This question was posed by Myles Wearring in a news article last year, but it certainly hasn’t been answered yet.

The exponential popularity of Facebook has prompted some companies (such as ACP and Channel Seven) to block access to it in the workplace. The fear, of course, is that employees will fritter away precious work hours or engage in other inappropriate behaviour.

However, some companies (such as Flight Centre) actually support the use of Facebook. As I have discussed in my previous article, What is social networking?, it can build a sense of community and encourage information sharing. I also suggest it can help engage and motivate employees – especially the tech-savvy Gen-Y’s.

If you’re leaning towards the “Just ban it!” camp, this more recent article by Myles Wearring may temper your view.

BTW, this debate isn’t unique to the corporate sector. For example, this article by Natasha Elkington reports how a university threatened to expel a student for cheating because he set up a study group on Facebook!

I see the way forward as a balance. Organisations like companies and universities shouldn’t ban social networking outright. Instead, they should manage it to reduce the risks while availing us to the benefits.

What are your thoughts?

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4 Comments on “Is Facebook good for the workplace?”

  1. Ron Lubensky Says:

    Hey Ryan, great to see you in the blogosphere!

    The issue with FB goes much deeper than whether or not it intrudes on work.

    My current work is about collaborative spaces that are there to solve genuine problems for bone fide communities of adults. FB be damned.

    All the best!

  2. ryan2point0 Says:

    Thanks for the warm welcome, Ron!

    I read your blog posts and agree that FB certainly has its flaws.

    However, there’s no denying that it’s incredibly popular – especially (in my experience) among the younger generations.

    In this light, what are your thoughts in regards to employees (or students) who *want* to use it? Would you ban it? Would you let it run wild and free? Would you engineer some other solution?

  3. Ron Lubensky Says:

    I would never ban it. But I would discourage its use in the institution. Listening to a radio or music at work may not get in the way. Television would, surely. And FB is more engaging so is even more distracting. I just don’t see the value of having a corporate FB account either–to talk to teenagers?

    Without going the conspiracy theory in school, I’d certainly set students the task of looking at the ethics of FB. Like alcohol, it needs to be treated responsibly. Unfortunately, most teenagers get sucked into the egotistical individualism that FB promotes all the while talking about friends and communities. It is an excellent challenge for critical thinking.

    Institutions should provide the means to create online identities, whether as blogs or in online social communities tied to the enterprise. Whether this remains inside or extends outside the garden is a matter for corporate policy. These don’t have to be engineered, just made available and used by some thought leaders 2.0 :-)


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