Using social media in the workplace


More and more working hours are being lost because of employees logging onto social networking sites while they are at work. As a result many employers now have a policy in place to minimise the impact on their business. Whether or not your boss is enforcing a restriction on how much you log on there is increasing evidence that concentration and productivity are affected when people are receiving constant updates. To ensure that there are clear boundaries between your private and working life here are some suggestions.

Does your company have a policy?

You may not be aware of a company policy but it is important to check whether there is one in place or you could inadvertently find yourself breaking the rules.

Most companies will have restrictions on the use of their own internet and computer systems but increasingly employers are also introducing legislation to restrict the use of personal phones and mobile devices as well. While some of these restrictions may seem overly controlling it is important that you adhere to them so you don’t jeopardise your career.

If your company does not have a policy it could be an opportunity for you to work together and develop one which takes into account both your perspectives – it is not just for the benefit of your employer but also for your own sake – many people report feeling less stressed and more able to concentrate when they know that they are unable to access social media sites while at work. Some people even go so far as to install software on their computer to stop them logging on during working hours.

Watch what you post – out of work

It is not just your conduct on social media sites while you are at work that you need to be aware of – how you conduct yourself from the comfort of your own home can also have consequences on your career. Here are 5 tips to bear in mind when posting things on the internet whether it is on your own private blog; Twitter; Facebook; Tumblr or YouTube.

1.      Do not say anything derogatory or negative about your employers – even if you think you are saying it as part of a private conversation with friends these things have a way of getting back and your disloyalty could cost you dearly.

2.      Don’t disclose any confidential information – whatever position you are in if you have access to confidential information, names of clients, details of cases etc. do not – under any circumstances – post it on the internet.

3.      Don’t complain about your job – even if you feel you have genuine grievances the internet is not the place to air them.

4.      Don’t befriend rival companies – even though you may think it is none of your employers business who you befriend, allegiances with rivals could damage the trust and relationship between you and your employer.

5.      Don’t post things when you are meant to be off sick – if you are too ill to be in work then presumably you are too ill to be on the computer at home – especially if your job involves sitting at a computer.

All of the above may seem like basic common sense but there are instances of people being sacked for each of them. Big companies, keen to protect their reputation, will often trawl the internet looking for times when they, or their products, are mentioned. If they come across a post by an employee they will not hesitate to take action. You may have set your privacy settings so only your friends can see what you post but there is still a chance things could come to the attention of your employers.

Log off

Another way that the internet affects people’s performance at work is through overuse. Many people log on when they get home from work and don’t log off again until bedtime. While this is a matter of personal choice research suggests a correlation between the use of modern technology and insomnia – lack of sleep will seriously affect your performance at work. Experts suggest that you log off at least 60 minutes before you go to bed and that this will help to ensure you need less REM (dreaming and information processing) sleep and have deeper sleep which helps you feel fully refreshed and ready for work the next day.


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