The idea of blocking social media at work seems unimaginable for companies like Verge Pipe Media, where so much customer engagement happens online. As of 2012, however, research shows that 54% of large companies completely block access to social networking sites (and even the ones that don’t have plenty of restrictions in place).
To someone who was born and bred in the world of online networking, it is hard for me to imagine a world where social media is prohibited at work. Cut off from the outside world? Only being able to communicate with the people right around you? Living in terror of being found out? It sounds like a scene straight out of The Walking Dead.
SOCIAL MEDIA APOCALYPSE.
Studies have shown that highly-qualified Millennials simply won't work for companies that don't allow them to network. 39 percent of workers my age won’t even consider a company that blocks Facebook. We want to work for progressive companies - in our view, blocking social networks at work is a policy that belongs in the stone age.
What’s more: the few Millennials who manage to overlook the ban may find themselves lacking an incentive to perform above par. When employees actually enjoy work, they are able to engage with a company in a way that encourages growth; but that kind of engagement is built on trust. If it becomes apparent that the boss doesn’t trust us to do our jobs, the environment begins to stifle creativity rather than stoke it. We start to feel trapped.
Wishing they had a truck + trailer
STAGE ONE OF THE APOCALYPSE: THE BREAKDOWN OF INFRASTRUCTURE
After the company implements an embargo on social media, your connection to the outside world starts to break down. Communication, both internal and external, is vital to a thriving business environment. Without one of the fastest and most immediate means of communication at our disposal, we will be forced to resort to email, phone calls, and carrier pigeons.
In an age where news breaks on twitter before television, your employees are at a disadvantage. Public information and popular opinion gets shaped within mere minutes, and we need the resources to adapt our company strategy to match what’s going on in the world. With social networking blocked, we’re left with limited outlets to the outside world (my generation doesn’t even like e-mail). Next thing you know, we’re cutting the phone lines and cooking beans on a hot plate in the break room.
STAGE TWO OF THE APOCALYPSE: GUT-WRENCHING ISOLATION
In blocking our access to social networks, we’ve also been cut off from possible clients. Social networking provides a source of free advertising. Employees who might have been promoting products to friends and family on Facebook or solving customer problems on Twitter are left to twiddle their thumbs. The generation of workers who have the skill set to help your business expand to the world of social media are prevented from learning to strategically use those skills. An entire segment of consumers that could have spread the company’s good word through social media never hear about us and never engage us.
STAGE THREE OF THE APOCALYPSE: DREADFUL RESIGNATION
One of the biggest myths that leads businesses to restrict social media access is the idea that it causes a loss of productivity. In reality, the opposite appears to be true. Studies have shown that productivity actually increases when people are able to connect to their social networks. The University of Melbourne reports increases of productivity as high as 9%.
As Meredith told you on Monday, bad workers are bad workers regardless of how often they’re allowed to get on Twitter. The same people whose productivity suffers when given access to social media will simply find another way to waste time. For the rest of us, however, company restrictions become truly restrictive. Social media provides a built-in sounding board. Before, when we were stuck on an idea, we could reach out to our peers online for ideas and input. With social media blocked, however, we’re forced to stare silently at our computer screens like zombies until inspiration strikes or its time to head home.
A world without social media sounds pretty desolate. The reality is that blocking social media is short-sighted and counter productive to your business. Even if it doesn’t turn your workforce into an army of the undead, it can still have some pretty dire consequences.
Author: Lane Jones is our Fall Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.