MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Social Media is Killing My Productivity!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 23, 2012


Productivity: the ability to generate, create, enhance of bring forth goods and services. The economic success of nations has been defined based on productivity. 'Advanced' countries are those who used to lead in productivity. Why? Because they had invested in technology innovation, which help create efficiencies. According to a Harvard Business Review blog in May 2012, the United States enjoyed the greatest productivity increase from 1980 to 2000 thanks to the deployment of enterprise-wide IT. However, technology only improves productivity if it is aligned with changes in how work is done. The bottom line on productivity is to maker more using less.

Enter social media. Loss of employee productivity is one of the most frequently mentioned fears when considering adoption of social networking platforms. Executive perception has been that social networking is a recipe for disaster.  

  •      -  Employees will waste time or share proprietary corporate data 
  •      -  Corporate networks will be invaded by viruses and bandwidth will be maxed out
  •      -  Time will be consumed without a clear ROI

As mentioned in last weeks blog, fear is a powerful inhibitor. Given the current economic environment the focus on productivity is intense. In fact, global productivity has been in decline for the last few years. Corporations often capture revenue per employee as an indicator of efficiency and success. With overall productivity in decline, it is easy to imagine the fear felt by senior executives when faced with an unfamiliar communication platform that has infiltrated businesses by way of consumer adoption and success.  Social media was not originally designed for corporate use!

However, the rapid adoption grew due to a desire by customers for real-time, authentic engagement. Now, companies have the ability to adopt social media for external communication AND internal collaboration. Yet, the fear remains. How can businesses overcome the productivity concern? Be smart.  Align your use of enterprise 2.0 platforms (e.g., Yammer, Jive, NewsGator) or outbound networks (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) with how your business works. Every company has its own way of getting things done. These platforms should augment and simplify those processes. They may displace existing tools, requiring a learning period for new users.

More importantly guide employees on the usage of the tools. Keeping productivity as your target, consider advising employees to:

     - schedule time for managing social engagement
     - turn off notifications that may overwhelm your desktop
     - separate personal and professional use of social media

True social media aficionados will argue that meaningful engagement means listening and responding in a timely manner. However, not every organization can afford to dedicate personnel to monitoring social media full time. Barry Moltz blogs about how to Calm your Social Media Anxiety, with a focus on brands and consumers. His advice is also relevant to users of internal social collaboration platforms.

For those companies embarking on the use of social media to increase internal collaboration, understanding how and when to engage with colleagues will be useful. Many employees are already feeling overwhelmed due to persistent layoffs that increase existing workloads and existing platforms that can distract focus from the matters at hand. Most corporate employees are already a slave to their email inbox. Help them understand how enterprise micro-blogging can reduce their inbox clutter by resolving easy to answer questions quickly and allow others to see the answer to that question without creating and exhaustive email distribution list.

The fear is real. Concern about productivity is rampant. However, with a little education, patience and common sense social media can become a differentiator that improves collaboration, communication and ultimately, productivity!

What's your perspective?