Computer Weekly arrived in my inbox today, with the front page nearly all about businesses blocking access to Facebook, because of employees time-wasting. I am sure they have run this story before, but I was more provoked by it this time around.
For background, I have worked both in companies that would definitely block Facebook and I have worked in ones that would never block it, ever. I can see lots of arguments for and against, but I don’t understand the time wasting one. Wake up people! If your staff are time wasting, blocking Facebook is not going to cure the problem. What next? Remove the toilet paper and hide all the cups in the office? I can understand people blocking Facebook for security reasons, although if your network security depends on manually blocking URLs, then might I gently suggest that you keep your resume up to date. You might be needing it at short notice, besides, guess where the data leak is in your company?
If your users are spending hours on Facebook, your staff are either demotivated and missing their family and friends, or they have become addicted to it. Facebook might be good, but I’m not convinced that it is good enough to keep you from doing work that you feel is worthwhile and is paid. Face the truth that your offending staff are probably just unmotivated and perhaps poorly managed. This isn’t a technology problem, it is a management problem. Someone once said “you can’t talk your way out of a problem that you behaved your way into”, the technology manager’s version “you can’t use technology to get out of a problem you managed your way into”. It is time to take a good hard look at the management and the business culture and ask some tough questions. Start to create a culture of trust and accountability in the business, bringing social media into the business can actually help with that. Don’t go into denial and start randomly blocking social networking sites, there are lots of other distractions out there too. What should you think as a shareholder if you see a company blocking Facebook in the office?