Business cyber-loafing policy vital to stop mega losses
Multi-million rand productivity losses go unaddressed by South African businesses because of their failure to develop a company policy to regulate their people’s use of social media in the workplace.
The first step is for companies to develop a policy on social networking on the firm’s time.
Until that happens, there is little chance of developing effective solutions.
Monitoring and engagement with staff to achieve ‘cyber freedom with responsibility’ is an alternative to a full clampdown on non-company computer usage. The approach is embraced by employers that prefer teamwork to a command-and-control environment.
Facebook alone has more than 500 million active users. Half of them log on every day. The average user has 130 ‘friends’. People spend over 700 billion minutes a month on the site.
Local growth is huge. By March 2009, Facebook attracted 1 385 340 South African users. A year later there were 2 485 960 – growth of 79.5%.
However, studies also indicate that social networking has business potential.
Research by Regus, the workspace solutions provider, shows that 43% of South African businesses have used social networks to win new business.
Potential as a business tool underlines the advisability of a balanced approach to social networking rather than the deployment of systems that black out the Net.
What is needed is computer time measurement and regular reporting in support of a clear policy on Internet access. Staff education is vital, too. Inappropriate and embarrassing photos are often posted on social network sites. Confidential information is sometimes be disclosed as well.
Corporate action to combat these challenges is still rare locally. Big productivity losses can therefore be expected to continue. Risk of reputational damage on these sites is also considerable. It’s up to business to stay up to speed because no one can put Internet developments on hold.
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