Reuters Life! is currently featuring a business management tip that might come as a surprise to some: increase employee access to social media tools. The article makes it clear that it’s not inviting workers to “run amok tweeting and writing on walls,” but instead recommending that companies invest in alternative social tools with a business-friendly focus. Is this a good idea?
Technology has completely changed the way most businesses run, and along the way, also changed the way employees get distracted and waste time. Does the desire to go onto Facebook and Twitter while on the clock reflect an urge to escape from work, or is it a sign that employees crave more communication with each other and the outside world? It probably depends upon the individual, but for those who fall into the latter category, work-related social media tools may be one way to recover some of the productivity that would otherwise be lost to the Web.
Yammer bills itself as the enterprise social network, and it gives companies the chance to create their own private Twitter-like boards. This allows teams and departments to cross-coordinate tasks and share images, links, and short messages that are primarily related to work. Basecamp by 37signals also allow easy access to discussion boards and collaboration tools that are eerily similar to the format of sites where workers might otherwise be wasting their time.
If you choose to deploy such a system, it’s probably also a good idea to incorporate time-tracking software, like our favorite tool Time Doctor, to make sure that employees prefer your networks to their personal ones, and to also gauge whether the new tools are increasing productivity overall or just introducing new distractions.