Tag Archives: workplace ethics

Social media during the workday: Time waster or mental palate cleanser?

Unless you work in the bat cave, you can probably find a useful way to incorporate social media into your workday.
Unless you work in the bat cave, you can probably find a useful way to incorporate social media into your workday.

I check social media more often than I would care to admit. Facebook and Twitter are the first things I check in the morning after snoozing, then turning off my alarm, and before checking email. Then I keep tabs of different social networks open all day long at work — or at the very least Hootsuite. And when I go home, I’m usually checking in on social using my phone or tablet.

Luckily for me and for my employer, social media is my job. I keep so many social tabs open during my work day because I’m managing our brand’s accounts and I’m looking for story ideas to pass onto reporters.

Because of the nature of my job, it’s hard to classify each action I take on social media as work or personal. I might click on a seemingly mindless Buzzfeed list for a personal reason, but then I could find inspiration in a stupid GIF — a brilliant story idea that I pass on to the appropriate reporter. Not that every listicle inspires me, but I won’t know before clicking.

However, social media is not a part of the job description for every employee in the world checking Facebook during the workday. So how can employers who want efficiency make sure workers aren’t wasting working hours on social media?

I think the answer is the boss needs to give a little to get more. Outlawing social media at the office is not the answer. In fact, Forbes says that social media actually increases productivity. The businesses who reported this social-media-driven efficiency focused their employees’ efforts on productivity using the networks instead of wasting time surfing. However, the Forbes piece also mentions that short social media breaks can act as a “mental palate cleanser.”

On a related note, I think “spying” on employees — searching browser history or time spent on social media sites — is unethical. Even if employers are open about collecting such information — and if they are collecting data, they should definitely disclose it — this practice is bound to breed manager or company distrust and dissatisfaction among employees.

Instead, employers should allow and even encourage those short social media breaks. If some employees start spending a little too much work time on social media, it will likely be reflected in their work, and that should result in an employer-to-employee conversation.

How do you think social media could be incorporated into your work day?