Social media: a distraction or part of the new ‘work’?

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It is not uncommon for bosses to frown upon employees who spend time on social media websites at work. Those who spend time on Facebook or Twitter are usually considered wastrels or shirkers. Both these activities are seen as distractions – Facebook is perhaps lesser of the evil – it may be seen as a welcome break from work. Some organizations even block access to social media websites at work.

So, is accessing Social Media a distraction at work? Or is it part of the ‘new‘ work? Facebook and Email are not distractions but necessities argues Peter Shankman. The new normal of work includes Social Media says Amber Naslund. In my view, getting familiar with trends in Social Media is important for advertising & marketing professionals of today. But unlike other trends, this one needs hands-on practice not just observations from afar. Yes, one can have a point-of-view on trends in Social Media by reading articles & books but there’s no substitute for first hand practice (many make do with first-hand observation as silent observers in social media forums).

Yet, obsession with Social Media can be a distraction to real work. But that’s not to single out ‘social media’ as the bad boy. Anything can be a distraction – there was a time when SMS was. Gossiping with colleagues, reading a newspaper, too many smoke & coffee breaks, whiling away time surfing the web – all can be distractions and were so until fancy terms like tweeting came about. Social Media can be an addiction – it is an integral part of many people’s lives. But the ‘new work’ demands that we multi-task and balance the two.

According to this article:

People are more successful if we force them to move away from a problem or distract them temporarily, observe the authors of Creativity and the Mind, a landmark text in the psychology and neuroscience of creativity.

Last year, researchers at Australia’s University of Melbourne discovered that taking time to visit “websites of interest” actually increased the ability to concentrate, boosting productivity by 9%. People who do surf the Internet for fun at work — within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office — are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t.

Spending time on social media can be immensely useful especially for advertising & marketing practitioners – observations on consumer behaviour, brand activity, competitive activity can be gleaned from there. It also works as just as a break from work…as inspiration. But too much of anything cannot be good. There’s enough to distract us from the task at hand in any case – an urgent email request, a phone call, an unscheduled meeting and so on. In the midst of all this, one doesn’t really need a YouTube video or a celebrity tweet to add to the confusion. But work and Social Media engagements can be compartmentalized and need to be so. It can be a distraction to work, only if you allow it to be. No?

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  1. Balance is a must in anything, companies are blocking sm sites at work , fine. But what will they do when the generation comes at work that was born in the facebook age ? the points that you have made are valid and i guess companies in India should stop the culture of monitoring. you make rules to be broken. But as you have pointed well a balance is a must otherwise you would be drowning in the ocean of sm. 🙂

  2. Prashant here has a very nice point here.Access to social networks is like a fundamental and human right for my generation who grew up playing online games and socialising on the net.I don't know the psychology behind it but we feel terrible when we don't get to "poke and like" at random.

    It's good to see companies changing their policies of allowing employees to use their own gadgets and surf social media in office.This is usually the conversation i hear among my friends these days….it explains the situation:

    1st Boy:How's the new job man!

    2nd Boy:Awesome yaaar.Dude,it's so cool.Free wi-fi,awesome food and mindblowing chicks.The package(salary) is a bit on the lower side though.

    1st Boy:C'mon yaar…life's is not only about salary man.By the way,can you forward my CV as well?!:-)

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