The Ontario government has experienced a powerful backlash against their ban of Facebook and Youtube in the workplace, according to Intergovworld.com. In a country that claims to have the highest per capita membership to Facebook, it’s understandable why Canadians are upset.
But, the article suggests, the ban may only be temporary whilst the powers that be get their head around the web 2.0 beast.
Notably, a government source claimed that they were struggling to keep up with the formulation of an appropriate response to this fast moving networking landscape. I have no doubt their concerns are reflected in other businesses across the world.
The debate for the government hinges primarily on lost time. But they also have their eye on the speed with which FB is moving, possibly looking at a ready-built platform rather than taking the slow boat by building their own collaboration platforms.
The article claims that Canadians spend an average of 29 minutes per day on Facebook; and that’s a big dent in production. The argument by business is that they are entitled to direct how and why their resources can be used, with private social networking not welcome.
However, I question whether this debate is not just a case of old wine in new wine skins. After all, the debate about private phone calls is a live issue in most organisations and will continue to be for some time to come. Most companies have an acceptable use policy with private phone calls being permitted so long as it’s within reason. How is social networking substantially different.
At another level I contend that social networking is very much more granular than making a phone call. After all, a person can check their Facebook feed or inbox in the brief period it takes for a customer to answer the phone or a document to come off the printer. Much damage done? I doubt it.
Finally, using social networking software teaches participants useful new skills in a non-threatening, enjoyable environment. I for one can’t see how this can be bad.
But back to the article, the claim is made that activity on Facebook has potential to do great harm to the reputation of a business through leaking of confidential information and through others being able to see what employees get up to during the course of the day.
To this I’d say, so what? If, as a manager and leader you have this little faith in your team, then perhaps the problem is sitting on the chair in your office.