June 23, 2016
In the last decade, social interaction has been shaped by one app: Facebook. This social network has shaped the way we make friends, communicate with family, and even consume news media. And while this platform has revolutionized the communication landscape, employers around the world have recognized its time-wasting tendencies and have banned it from board rooms, all-hands meetings, and personal computers around the world. But is that slowing down anyone’s scrolling?
A recent study from Pew Research Center found some interesting results: no, it’s not. Apparently, 75 percent of the world’s employees use Facebook or some other form of social media at work, regardless of any rules in place to insist otherwise. That’s right, three fourths of the population wants to check out what people did this weekend in the face of punishment and, sometimes, unemployment. Employees cited the need for a mental break from work and a desire to connect with friends and family during the day as the reasons for checking Facebook so regularly.
“These data show that the rise of social media has added a new layer of job-related activity for many workers as well as new opportunities to ‘escape’ the job when they want to take a break,” said Kenneth Olmstead, a research associate at Pew Research Center and an author of the report.
This obsession with social media doesn’t bode well for the businesses of the world. Reports have shown that companies are missing out on billions of dollars worth of productivity because of Facebook and other sites and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon. Fortunately, the changing landscape could alter the way employees interact with social media. Facebook is working on a way to make their platform more accessible during work hours, for employers and employees, in order to make their platform less of a distraction and more of a tool. And they are confident that “Facebook at Work” can help achieve this goal.
“Social networking platforms provide workers new ways to learn job-related skills and new ways for them to socialize even when they are on the job. In effect, social media has made the once solid boundary between work and leisure a lot more permeable,” said Olmstead.
There is no escaping the procrastination monster lurking inside all of us. Facebook is just one of thousands of means of distraction that workers use to keep their minds off their menial tasks. If it wasn’t Facebook, it would be a newspaper, or a book, or a game of rock-paper-scissors. The medium is not the problem. The lack of interesting, stimulating work is the problem. While employers wonder why employees aren’t itching to input data or write coupons, employees sit at their desks dreaming of more engaging work to actually stimulate their creative minds. But, until the workforce becomes a more productive, less obstructive place, Facebook and social media will have to suffice.
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