In brief : authorizing and using Facebook at work is still a strong debate. Some consider it has a negative impact on work but a closer look can lead to another conclusion : it’s a thermometer of human relationships and management failure. A consequence and not a cause.
That’s one of the web’s favorite debate. Whatever you do it comes back again and again even if you think the matter is now clear for anyone. Of course I’m talking about using Facebook (and others) at work.
I won’t elaborate on the situation where, for legitimate technical reasons (bandwith…), access to such services is restricted. I won’t elaborate either on security matters (but I’d like to know when employees leave the office ? What if they were taught talk carefuly in public places instead of banning Facebook in the workplace ?). Today I’ll focus on productivity and wasted time.
What’s new with Faceboo ? Nothing. As long as I can remember, employees have always found means to spend their time during their professional time. With or without computers. The means have changed but the logic has been the same for decades or even centuries.
But why employees at work (or students in a classroom) do feel the need of doing another thing that the one they’re here for ? A first answer is obvious : after a certain time it’s hard to stay focused and brains need a break. The second is less pleasant to hear.
I remember of some courses where we all used to be yawning and where our PCs were used for any purpose but working. And, at very moment the professor in charge of the next course came in the room, computers were shut down. To some extent we were so focused on listening that we often forgot to tale notes. In the end, the same thing happens in the office. Tools do not distract people but the context makes them feel like being distracted.
As any employee caught spending to much time on Facebook the reason of such behaviors. You’ll always get the same answer.
Demandez à un salarié qui “exagère” quant au temps qu’il passe sur Facebook (ou autre) sur son poste de travail il vous répondra invariablement la même chose :
- I’m borde
- I’m not motivated
- I don’t understand the purpose of my mission
- I don’t feel involved, I’m not engaged
- during my breaks I want to talk with my real friends. And they’re not in the office…
So Facebook spreads boredom in the workplace, kills motivation and engagement and distends ties between employees. Surprising.
A crazy thought came through my mind. What if Facebook was not the cause but the consequence. Or the indicator.
So employees would use Facebook because they are not motivated, engaged, can’t make sense of their work and are looking for ways out ? Is it Facebook’s fault ? Not sure. Does Facebook makes work worse ? Or is it the conséquence of a context that’s gone worse ?
Let’s imagine a new HR indicator. Let’s guess what a “normal” use of Facebook is in terms of tume and measure the gap with actual uses. A good way to know who works or not ? No. An indicator to identify pain zones, zones of “Atila” management (where the managers goes, motivation can’t grow up anymore), zone where something has to be done but not by banning Facebook but fixing HR and management.
Another solution would be to keep believing that fever is caused by thermometers. Let’s ban thermometers and less people will have flu. Or not.
If the matter interests you, you should also read this post by Dan Ponterfact.