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Redes sociales en el trabajo

Copio del boletín HP Technology at Work de esta semana, sin autorización pero con buena intención, un texto sencillo y muy claro que me parece interesante como para compartirlo con el personal en las empresas.

Social media @ work?

In May 2010, a survey carried out by found that while 40% of workers in the UK criticise their workplace on social networking sites, 55% thought that staff that did so should be disciplined. However, only 16% knew that their company had disciplinary policies in place to cover potential issues caused by social media.
While social media is undoubtedly here to stay, the question is: to what extent can an employer control his employees’ social media activities? And if negative comments are made in a public domain, how should the employer react?

A highly effective business tool
The benefits of social media are obvious. First of all, it can be a highly effective business tool, invaluable for promoting companies and brands. It can enhance a company’s reputation and bring in business; indeed, many employees are now encouraged to blog and tweet, even during work hours. In addition, many young workers today literally grew up with the internet and would find limits to its use restrictive, preferring not to work for a company which bans social media.
However, while it’s true that companies can see the benefits of using social media to promote their brands, and as sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn become inseparable from modern business use, the risks to the uncontrolled use of social media are obvious.

Higher net concentration
All of us need a few short breaks in the day – and surfing, blogging and tweeting are fun. But they reduce the concentration and make you less productive. Or do they?
According to a 2009 study, 70% of office employees use the internet at work for personal reasons; 9% of these people are more productive than employees who do not use the internet for fun.[1] According to Brent Coker, from the University of Melbourne’s department of management and marketing, “Short, unobtrusive breaks enable the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day’s work, and as a result, increased productivity.”
So should we use social media during working time? After all, nowadays we’re not tied to our computers: during work hours we can also surf the net on our smartphones and other gadgets. The best advice is to be sensible. You know yourself best. If you know that you’re someone who is easily distracted, or who finds it hard to log off once you’re chatting with your friends, then simply decide to keep your social media use to the evenings. After all, you wouldn’t chat on the phone at your desk for hours during work time, would you?

When is an employee’s behaviour private?
In October 2010, Porsche banned their employees’ access to all social media in the workplace owing to fears that foreign intelligence agencies had been contacting their workers on Facebook to obtain information. An extreme example – but it’s a sign of the times: how can you check that what is being posted is “appropriate” – and can you discipline employees who break the rules? Can a blanket ban really work? And how can you monitor what your employees do in their own time and from their own computers?
What you write in a public domain like Facebook is different from what you say in a room to your friends: while the one remains private, the other means that your words could be repeated a million times, out of context – leaving you at risk of being fired – not because you had an opinion, but because you brought your company’s reputation into question. In a groundbreaking case in the UK in February 2011, a Department for Transport employee lost her case against two national newspapers which had published tweets in which she attacked the government. The Press Complaints Commission ruled that information posted on Twitter should be considered public, as they could be read by anyone, and therefore were publishable by newspapers.

Use your discretion
Employees obviously have to use their own discretion but good advice would be:

  • Remember: you are a representative of your company
  • Never divulge sensitive information: this constitutes a breach of confidentiality
  • Don’t criticise management, your colleagues or your company’s products
  • Don’t spread office gossip or rumours
  • Don’t criticise your employer’s clients
  • Don’t put silly videos of the office on YouTube

In other words, don’t post anything which could damage your employer’s reputation. As Fergal Dowling, an employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said, “Abuse of social media can be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of contract, depending on the level of abuse, and the policies in place at the company.”

Drawing a clear line
However, the fact is that even happy employees may divulge confidential information, without meaning to. Companies therefore have to protect themselves either by developing new social networking policies to cover workplace access and appropriate usage, or by adding new terms to current confidentiality policies to cover social media use by their employees – in private as well as in the workplace. Until there is legislation in place to cover these issues, companies will be obliged to come up with their own rules, and to decide if and when negative comments made by employees are really damaging enough to warrant dismissal or disciplinary action.
Meanwhile, accept that social media is a good thing and that it’s here to stay; put together a proper social media use policy; and make sure your employees understand that loss of business is in the best interests of no one in the company.

[1] 2 April 2009, University of Melbourne


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