Facebook in the Enterprise
Once upon a time, employees had restricted access to the phone. When email arrived, users faced further restrictions- often, you could only email someone in the same company. Many organisations currently place restrictions upon access to Facebook - why?
Our methods of communication
are becoming quicker all the time. We started with the letter, moved
onto fax, then email, and we are now moving towards IM (and in some
extreme cases microblogging applications such as Twitter). Even our
news consumption is becoming faster and less centralised through the
use of these tools, as we snub news sources such as BBC and CNN in favour
of decentralised citizen journalists. (For example, the Hudson plane
crash was ‘Twittered’ and pictures were also posted on Twitpic).
As we demand ever faster interaction,
traditional methods of communication are used much less frequently-
when was the last time you faxed anything, for instance? To some extent
even email falls by the wayside in this era of instant messaging. Facebook
takes advantage of the need for rapid communication and provides a platform
to facilitate this. It allows IM, profiles and groups, along with systems
which can invite people to take part in activities, share documents
(including pictures) and even host conference calls for free.
I can see huge value in an enterprise tool that allows the employees to build a profile of their skills and interests, and update it with information about current projects. This tool could provide disparate employees with a platform to share pictures and documents and facilitate the formation of communities or teams working on particular tasks. It would allow people to easily find help from others with similar interests, or those who happen to be working on a similar (or worse, duplicate!) project.
Collaboration is one of the keys to success and the required tools are out there. So why aren’t organisations embracing Facebook - or at the least installing an internal version of it? Is it down to the same fears that restricted access to the telephone- perhaps a reluctance to trust employees to use their time and tools judiciously?
May 21, 2009Emilie SmithThere are already processes in place to monitor abuse of these types of sites. As long as the use isn't unreasonable and the person is getting all their work done - what's the harm? Especially as they can probably Facebook from their mobile phone whenever they like anyway :)
I personally think an overly restrictive workplace is encouraging people to approach work with the "you don't trust me so I won't trust you" response. That doesn't foster high employee engagement!
February 10, 2009Ian HayYour final comment is spot on Rob, there are reasons why Facebook is blocked and LinkedIN is not, mainly that you can enjoy yourself on Facebook, it's very true that many workers who are being paid to do something else would waste fat too much time on Facebook if allowed, same reason twitter and MySpace are blocked.
Personally I think it's very wrong and that trust and local management should be used, not blanket policies however that's too much hassle it seems.
There is however a growing section of employees that use these tools all the time and for the benefit of their jobs too, not just to have fun with lolcats...