Research released today by Morse, the IT services and technology company, has shown that use of Twitter and other social networks by employees at work is costing UK businesses £1.38 billion* each year in lost productivity.
From the 1,460 office workers surveyed over half (57%) said that they used social networking sites during the working day for personal use.
On average those people were spending 40 minutes on these sites each week, equating to just under a full working week being wasted each year by employees using social networking sites at work.
The survey of 1,460 office workers was commissioned by Morse and conducted by independent research company TNS. Further details of the survey are available from Spark Communications on 020 7436 0420.
Portsmouth City Council was reported to be banning Facebook on its computers after it was revealed staff spent on average 400 hours on the site every month. Portsmouth City Council said it had decided to change its policy and block access to the social networking site along side use of Bebo, Twitter and eBay (YouTube had already been banned) in September 2009. You can read about this case at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hampshire/8231234.stm
The report also indicated that 76% of the respondents stated their employer had not issued them with specific guidelines with regards to using Twitter.
The press release from Morse.com also commented that there have been several high-profile incidents recently, involving the likes of Curry’s, PC World, BA and Virgin Atlantic, where employees have abused customers on social networks and other public-facing sites therefore damaging the reputation of the company.
The research also states that a third of office workers stated that they had seen sensitive information posted on social networks, overall 84% felt that it should be up to them as to what they post online.
Of the office workers surveyed 81% admitted that they were worried they might be clicking on a link to an unsecure website when for example they clicked on shortened URL’s especially prevalent in Tweets.
Interestingly, I am working with a non-profit organisation who have taken the opposite approach. It is important for them to allow their employees access many different sites in the course of their work so instead they have put in place systems that check for viruses at the network level and at an individual PC’s level and they are developing codes of practice for their employees and other stakeholder groups.
Does your organisation have an IT or communications policy that addresses employee access to social media sites?