January 16, 2013
social media

Should Companies Allow Facebook at Work?

Late last year I was at a dinner with a Board I won’t mention by name. There were roughly 50 people at the event. Tables were pre-assigned and I found myself sitting across from a chap in his mid-50’s whose professional job was an accountant. He worked at a rather large firm as a partner.

And no, I won’t insert any accountant jokes at this time.

About halfway through the meal, the conversation at the table of 10 shifted to social media. Other than Denise (my better half) no one really had any idea of my background or my natural propensity for all things social.

facebookCan you see where this is going?

Somehow, the chatter gravitated to Facebook. Our accountant friend chimed in and said, “The partners and I decided this year to ban Facebook. It’s a distraction and too much of a time waster for our associates.”

At that precise moment, I received a kick to the shins from Denise. I glanced over and read her lips, “Don’t you dare Dan.”

But, the damage was done and I was going in for the kill.

“Dear sir,” I grinned from ear to ear. “I find your decision ludicrous. Do you really believe Facebook — or any social media for that matter — is a time waster?”

I received a look of death.

But I continued, “If Facebook is a time waster, what about lunch breaks or your fitness room?” He did not look pleased. “And surely there are still people who are smoking in your firm, don’t they go outside for ‘smoke breaks’?” I cheekily asked.

And then I went in for the kill.

“Here’s another thing to consider,” I slyly pondered. “Do you provide mobile phones for your associates?”

Our accountant friend sternly said, “yes we do.”

My eyes lit up. “Well, don’t you think your associates are still using Facebook throufacebook_blockedgh their mobile phones now that you’ve blocked it from your network?”

And that’s when Denise changed the subject to Habitat for Humanity … or was it Justin Bieber? It doesn’t matter.

The point?

To anyone that is contemplating a ban on Facebook or any other social media site inside your organization’s firewall. Don’t do it. Wake up. Invite yourself to the 21st century. Enjoy this phenomenon called collaboration.

By banning Facebook and other social media sites you are instituting a draconian if not Orwellian culture of disengagement. You are also preventing the natural act of social business to manifest. Don’t you occasionally receive personal photos or jokes via email? Is there a difference?

Social is the new normal; you are the antithesis of collaboration. You think business is conducted in a cubicle.

Good luck if you do ban it.

I’ll be laughing at you through one of my status updates posted at 10:30am on a Wednesday.

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