Workplace Social Networking: More Like Antisocial Not-Working

Hardly a week goes by when the national press doesn’t carry a story about how social networks represent a threat to privacy or security, or both. These news stories aren’t wrong: Users of social networks face a raft of risks, ranging from malware attacks and identity theft, to cyber-bullying, grooming from sexual predators or stalkers, viewing or posting inappropriate content, and the ever-present risk that you (or someone you work with) might end up with your foot (or is it your keyboard?) firmly in mouth.

Using social networks to give out too much information about yourself can also lead to some predictably poor outcomes. One Australian employee, fired from his job, had posted about skiving from work after a night of heavy drinking. A group of call centre employees swapped brags about abusing customer information on Facebook and were fired. Is it hard to believe that the employer used the employees’ own Facebook posts as a virtual admission of guilt?

With Facebook adding over 400,000 users a day and LinkedIn 400,000 a week, social networks can no longer be ignored by employers, as employee misuse of social networks accelerate.

In another incident that’s received widespread publicity, a juror serving on a criminal trial posted details of the court case to Facebook — even generated a poll to ask friends how they would vote as a juror — and ended up being dismissed from the trial as a result. In another, jurors who posted trial details to Facebook caused a mistrial.

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Employers also need to be careful how they use social media. It’s one thing for one partner to send another a Dear John letter through social media, but it’s something completely different for an employer to use Facebook as the means to terminate an employee’s position. And yet, that’s exactly what happened to one UK teenager who was let go.

The Web itself has long served a dual role as business productivity tool and as a time waster of dubious value. A multitude of surveys demonstrate how workplace access to the Web can lead to the loss of productive work time.

  • 7 percent of workers cite web surfing as their No. 1 distraction at work. –AOL &
  • Employees waste more than 2 hours a day on recreational computer activities. (ibid.)
  • “30 percent to 40 percent of Internet use in the workplace is unrelated to business.” –IDC

Businesses have grappled with this dual-role for some time. On the one hand, keeping employees productive is important. But maintaining morale, not to mention staying abreast of trends along with competitors and industry members in an increasingly connected world, can be equally valuable. Spam filtering, for example, is one way for businesses to maintain employee productivity and reduce distraction and risk. The question that I keep asking myself is, “Why have so many companies embraced email filtering for security, but so few adopt Web filtering?”

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Some companies have revised their internal Acceptable Use Policies to cover what workers can and can’t do, with regard to usage, postings, and commentary on social networks. This is a good first step for any business: Allowing random employees to post offhand comments on the business or its customers can expose your business to unexpected (and undesirable) publicity—and not the good kind. But social media moves so quickly, even an AUP may not cover every conceivable circumstance where an employee might cause a public uproar.

If you wouldn’t allow your employees to speak to the press, consider the immediacy and wide availability of a commentary posted to a social network. Anyone within the company can self-publish damaging or embarrassing information to the world in seconds.

With no guidelines or controls in place, companies find themselves in the middle of a minefield, with any wrong move coming at potentially great cost to the business. If you own a business where employees have access to the Internet, it makes sense to set up those rules now, so your employees know exactly what they’re allowed to do, and what topics they shouldn’t post about.

Ian Moyse

Ian Moyse, is Sales Director at Natterbox, a Cloud Telephony provider and has over 30 years of experience in the IT Sector, with 25 of these in Leadership roles. He was named #1 on the top 100 cloud influencers list in 2015-2017 and #18 on the IOT influencers list.. He is recognised as a leading cloud Blogger and was listed in the EMEA top 50 influencers in Data Centres, Cloud & Data 2017. Ian can be followed on twitter here > In 2015 he was named 48th most connected on LinkedIn Worldwide and awarded a Linkedin Power Profile as a top 10 Influencer in the UK technology sector. Starting as a Systems Programmer at IBM in the mainframe environment, he has held senior positions in both large and smaller organisations including Senior Vice President for EMEA at CA and Managing Director of several UK companies.  Moyse has been keynote speaker at many events and runs one of the largest Channel Discussion Groups worldwide on LinkedIn. He sits on the board of Eurocloud UK and the Governance Board of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and in early 2016 Ian was appointed to the Board of FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) as their cloud advisor. Other accolades to Ian's name include being awarded global 'AllBusiness Sales AllStar Award for 2010' and The 'European Channel Personality of the Year Award for 2011' and he was named by TalkinCloud as one of the global top 200 cloud channel experts in 2011 and listed on the MSPMentor top 250 list for 2011 which tracks the world's top managed services experts, entrepreneurs and executives. Ian was also given the accolade by Channelnomics of 2011 Influencer of the year for Europe Recognition: ✔ Sales Director of the Year 2015 (Institute of Sales & Marketing Awarded). ✔ Sits on the board Eurocloud UK & Governance Board of Cloud Industry Forum (CIF). ✔ 2014 Ranked 9th w/wide in top 50 most influential people in Sales Lead Management (SLMA) ✔ Klout Social Score 79 ✔ TalkinCloud global top 200 cloud channel experts 2011 ✔ Listed on MSPMentor Worldwide top 250 list for 2011 & 2014 ✔ Listed in top 25 of the w/wide SMB Nation 150 Channel Influencers list 2012 & 2013

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