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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 13, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

    Social networking sites ‘a distraction’

    Ciara O'Brien

    We’re a skiving lot apparently. According to new survey, more than half of office workers are logging on to social networking sites they should be working.

    So instead of answering calls, emails or generally keeping our employers’ business running smoothly, half of us are logging on to play Bejewelled or throw a sheep at someone. Or Twittering incessantly.

    Of course, that’s only the 52 per cent who are admitting to it. Who knows what the real figure is.

    Meanwhile, 69 per cent of bosses believe that Twitter and its ilk are a distraction to employees.

    This has, inevitably, led to a call for a total ban on social networking at work by those who carried out the survey, employment law consultancy firm Peninsula Ireland.

    Says managing director Alan Price: “If social networking websites are no use to you; ban them. We are trying to fight our way through a recession and so businesses need a focused workforce. Employers need to take a tough stance on the subject of social networking and tell their employees that they will not tolerate the use of these sites during working hours. The problem has been around for a while and employers acknowledge the fact that they are having a negative impact on their business but do nothing about it.”

    Of course, a total ban won’t suit all businesses. Twitter, for example, can be a useful tool for journalists to track new stories. Others use Twitter to chase up new opportunities, or even to market their business’s services.

    But a lot of businesses won’t see the same benefits, instead seeing only the endless timewasting opportunities.

    Personally, I don’t think banning them is the answer. For every distraction offered by social networking sites during working hours, employees could point out two more within the office itself. Colleagues. Unnecessary phone calls. Numerous pointless “reply all” emails. the junk mail that clogs your inbox every day. And you can’t ban them all.

    Plus, you can access the sites through most mobile phones these days. Work resources aren’t the only way to get online.

    Price, however, takes a hard line.

    “There is an argument for the use of social networking sites within some industries however where there is no advantage to your business, you need to ban them. Be firm with staff if they insist on accessing the sites during the working day and show them that these misuse of resources will not be tolerated.”

    So there now. You’ve been told.