Distraction Isn’t One of the Seven Deadly Sins, Is It?

Cutting access to social media might actually reduce employee productivity.


Employees are more likely to perform their jobs better with just a bit of distraction, so says The New Yorker. In an April article, the magazine discussed a 2011 study from the University of Copenhagen that found productivity increases when employees are able to [somewhat] indulge in their social media vices

Before you dismiss the thought of offering penalty-free Facebook access, the Cophenhagen researchers offered a few real, tactical reasons employers might want to re-evaluate their Internet access policy.

  • Mental breather:  Allowing employees a short period of time to access social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter gives their minds a chance to reset and recharge for the next task.
  • Connected coworkers:  Employees might not be able to accept that friend request at their desk, but many can — and do — on their smart phones. When employees turn to their smart phone, it lures them further from their work stations. Keeping a social outlet a tab away allows employees to stay focused on their jobs, not their phones.
  • Proactive policies: Get in front of possible problems by establishing a firm, yet fair, usage policy. Employees should know if they have a deadline to meet, they are expected spend less time surfing YouTube and more time ... it’s no shock here … working. Taking away the temptation to break the rules helps take away the temptation to waste valuable crunch time.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Some employees might not be able to shut off the near-constant communication of social media sites. Plus there are important considerations regarding data security. But the next time you’re evaluating your credit union’s Internet access policy, consider innovative ways to balance productivity, security, and socializing. The answer might be to turn the other ear and let in the social buzz a few moments a day.



April 27, 2011

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  • I hate to say it but upper management will never go for this...ever. More than anything, it's probably the perception of wasting member money that would kill this idea.
    Ken Gardner
  • We DO allow a short time to access Facebook -- it's from their smart phones on their regularly scheduled breaks. I agree with Sara -- it's not only a stretch, it overlooks all the computer virus problems that are reportedly coming from social media access. Plus, does allowing them to log on from a credit union computer make us liable for what they might say?
    Carla S
  • Seems like a stretch to me! You should see the amount of time wasted in my office by people on Facebook. While I agree there should be a happy medium, I'm not sure I'd ever buy the argument that this will make people more productive at work.
    Sara V.