Workers who want to share the latest news with Facebook friends and Twitter followers will need to wait until after hours or risk violating company policy, a new survey suggests. Nearly six out of 10 (58 per cent) chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed recently said their firms do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while at work.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 270 CIOs from companies across Canada.
CIOs were asked, “Which of the following most closely describes your company’s policy on
visiting social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, while at work?” They responded:
- 58 per cent Prohibited completely
- 22 per cent Permitted for business purposes only
- 16 per cent Permitted for limited personal use
- 3 per cent Permitted for any type of personal use
- 1 per cent Don’t know/no answer
“Social networking sites may distract employees’ attention from their job duties, so many organizations have banned their use in the workplace,” says Geoff Thompson, vice president of Robert Half Technology. “For some occupations, however, these sites can enhance business practices, and one in five companies are therefore allowing access for work-related use.”
Thompson cautioned that employees should always exercise prudence no matter how lenient their company’s policy. “Whether during or outside business hours, professionals should employ sound judgment when using Facebook and similar sites,” he says. “Unprofessional posts may lead to career repercussions.”
Robert Half Technology offers the following tips for protecting your professional reputation when using social networking sites:
- Know what’s allowed. Make sure you understand and adhere to your company’s social networking policy.
- Use caution. Be familiar with each site’s privacy settings to ensure personal details or photos you post can be viewed only by people you choose.
- Keep it professional. Use social networking sites while at work to make connections with others in your field or follow industry news -- not to catch up with family or friends.
- Stay positive. Avoid complaining about your manager and coworkers. Once you’ve hit submit or send, you can’t always take back your words -- and there’s a chance they could be read by the very people you’re criticizing.
- Polish your image. Tweet or blog about a topic related to your profession. You’ll build a reputation as a subject matter expert, which could help you advance in your career.
- Monitor yourself. Even if your employer has a liberal policy about social networking, limit the time you spend checking your Facebook page or reading other people’s tweets to avoid a productivity drain.
The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 270 telephone interviews with CIOs across Canada.
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