Remember when you had to be a privileged employee to get a cell phone (your only cell phone)? Remember when your work computer was a brick that was something you would drag out at 8am and put away again at the end of the day? Now the level of technology and use of technology is so advanced that the distinction between our work and social lives is blurred. Is this a good or bad thing?
Some companies in 2015 are starting to crack down on employee access to Facebook and other social sites. The ever-present (but often unquantified) concern is that employees spending time on these sites are actually “stealing” time from their employer. Their behavior should be always oriented to work tasks rather than social tasks, and anything else is a distraction, or an outright waste of paid time.
It’s tough to change this behavior though because all generations are now becoming used to living with an online social life, and connecting with people globally and instantly is now an expected norm. For many employees, this connection and outreach is a valuable way to balance work and life in a way that is actually quite a bit more efficient than it was 20 years ago. Furthermore, since most employees now see it as a personal entitlement, companies that start to remove this access are likely to face more of a backlash vs. a sudden boost in productivity.
However, employees also need to heed some caution from their side. Putting your entire life into the public spotlight can influence working relationships and certainly is a consideration in the recruiting and hiring world. Anything that your friends can see, your boss or potential employer can see also. In most cases, the same old-fashioned advice of “don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t expect everyone to see”, is valid (is that really old-fashioned advice already!!).
Perhaps for 2015 companies shouldn’t be wardens of social media, but instead be counsellors: providing guidance and common sense so that employees can still balance their work and life, but in a way that benefits everyone.