Don’t Ban Facebook!

A research study found that firms that let their employees access Facebook at work lose an average of 1.5% in total employee productivity. Nearly half of the employees studied used Facebook during work hours (shocking!) — some as much as 2 hours per day at work. The researchers concluded that:

Firms should evaluate their Facebook policy and the cost to the organization in allowing access to Facebook, as today blocking Facebook may actually result in a 1.5% gain in productivity.”

My take: Hogwash.

If you have a productivity problem at your company (and you do), then you’d be wise to look elsewhere to increase productivity before banning Facebook.

Here’s how to improve productivity without banning access to Facebook:

1) Ban lunch. I bet that some of your co-workers take an hour to eat their lunch. What’s up with that? How long does it take to eat a sandwich? If eliminating lunch outright isn’t a feasible option at your firm, here’s an alternative: Have that whiny Gen Yer you just hired out of school — who’s probably the worst offender of accessing Facebook at work — get lunch for everyone else so they can sit at their desks and eat their lunch while working.

2) Ban meetings. How much time do you spend in meetings? Probably four to six hours a day. And what do you predominantly do in those meetings? Chit-chat with your colleagues. What a freaking waste of time and cause of lost productivity. I’d actually recommend not letting people at work talk to each other at all. Collaboration is really just code for chit-chat.

3) Leak rumors of a possible layoff. You will never see your co-workers work more diligently.

These are just a few of the ideas I have to help you improve productivity without having to resort to banning Facebook. The others you’ll have to hire me and pay for.

But seriously, Facebook isn’t the cause of productivity problems, it’s a symptom. If you ban Facebook, do you think the people who have been spending two hours a day at work on the site are going to say “damn, they banned Facebook — I guess I’ll get back to work now”?

I’ve got no research to support this, but my bet is that an employee that spends excessive time on Facebook is an employee who:

  • Isn’t happy in his/her job, or
  • Isn’t challenged enough in his/her job, or
  • Doesn’t have an appropriate workload, or
  • Isn’t sufficiently interacting with his/her boss and colleagues.

It’s also possible that some of the folks who spend a lot of time on FB at work are actually the high-performers at their firms. Sadly, the researchers cited above addressed none of these potential causes of excessive FB usage as the culprit to be addressed.

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