Facebook gets the door slammed in its face

Picture_1_3 Shhh….listen for it.

It's happening all over the world.  Companies are slamming the door in the face of Facebook.

Citing productivity and security, corporations from Australia's largest telecommunications company, Telstra to many ma and pa store fronts, are banning the growing social networking tool.

According to London's Telegraph, more than 2/3 of UK companies are making Facebook off limits and visiting it during work hours is a sackable offense. (I so wish I spoke UK)  Interesting that London was just identified as having more Facebook members than any other city in the world.

According to a survey by Sophos, over 50% of workplaces are now "FaceBlocking" and the ones who have not are afraid of employee backlash.

And it's not just corporate America.  Colleges and public access points are also blocking or considering blocking the site.

What do you think?  Smart?  Paranoid?  An over-reaction?  Justified?  If you were the CEO of an organization, what would you do?

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21 comments on “Facebook gets the door slammed in its face

  1. I own my own business and I have been exploring the potential of Facebook as a networking tool. I’ve also been looking at it for other business purposes and have encouraged others in my business (well, they are actually three of us right now but we will probably double that number by the end of the year).

    I do think it can be abused like anything else however and I’m not opposed to time limits, etc. in the workplace. I do most of my “Facebooking” during down times or the evening hours but will also check it during the day at the same times I check e-mails and RSS feeds.

    The explosion of so called “applications” is getting out of hand however. I do experiment with some new ones from time to time but I also find myself deleting quite a few to make life simple.

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    Ha ha, I was just reading this post from within the BlogFriends application in Facebook … and had just finished a small rant on the same topic on another friend’s blog. BSP!
    Here in Australia we are experiencing a double standard. On the one hand MSM is scaremongering with a series of articles on how Facebook and other social networking sites are costing employers billions in lost productivity; on the other hand, MSM are also wildly happy to tap into and exploit such networks when there is potential to make money from it.
    My view is that, like anything, there needs to be some workplace policies put in place. BUT there is huge potential in activating Facebook in the workplace. Some good practice examples can be found here:

  3. Erin Blaskie says:

    I’ve long been on the opposition side of corporations shutting down access to things during work hours. Here’s the way I see it…

    If you shut the door on anything ‘fun’ in the workplace, you are creating a place that is not fun to work – thus creating a jail cell feel. Businesses that encourage their employees to take regular breaks, have fun on their lunch breaks, do team activities (sports), etc. see higher productivity because people ENJOY their work.

    I think that employers (ie: corporations) don’t give their people enough credit. If they put more energy into boosting team morale as opposed to blocking anything ‘fun’ from the workplace, they’d see an increase in productivity. When an employee feels good about the company they work for, they build respect and passion for what they do thus promoting good work.

    So, I think it’s ridiculous to shut down Facebook at work. I think that employers are being paranoid and distrusting which just harbors more distrust and causes people to act out in an untrusting way.

    That’s just my two cents (and goodness, I am ever glad I don’t work in the corporate world anymore!)


    Erin Blaskie
    Business Services, ETC

  4. We should consider the type of work atmosphere involved. There is to me, no black/white standard. Certain jobs involve computers with internet access and work productivity is measured in the number of unique businesses processes completed / hour. In those scenarios, employers have a right to ensure employees remain productive. Without good oversight or checking performance by numbers, employers resort to simply blocking websites. I don’t think that’s necessarily appropriate because if Facebook or internet access weren’t present, employees could still slack off by chit-chatting, text-messaging, IM, phone talking, reading magazines, drawing, ???
    My point is that it’s still management’s job to ensure employees remain productive through unique human methods or other metrics.
    Perhaps if management isn’t capable of doing that, then they’ll have to resort to more command/control measures.

  5. god says:

    I will not be blocking facebook within my organisation. I think communication between staff and consumers is very important. Any CEO that takes this route will ultimately be faced with increased sick leave and that, surely has a considerably higher negative impact on productivity and effectiveness. Blocking Facebook is myopic.

  6. I say good for them! We need to get rid of all these new-fangled time wasters, that are just making it harder for big, dumb companies to do business.

    Next thing you know, people will want to stop wearing gray suits to work, and women will be wearing pants for goodness sakes. Why can’t things just go back to the way they were!

    I’m being facetious of course. But what’s really sad, is that I encounter folks that actually think like this all the time. Nostalgia’s one thing, having your head up your — well you know — is quite another 🙂 .

  7. Mike Sansone says:

    Paranoia (with a dash of Ignorance and a pinch of Dull, sans Leadership)

    – Lewis makes a great point. If not Facebook, goof-offs will find something else.
    – Don’t miss the possibility that Cam has a great point. Sometimes its in the goofing off that great ideas come about.
    – Mario’s last sentence above says it all.

  8. While blocking access as a whole should be unnecessary there are some people who just cannot help goofing off too much. In that case I have restricted access to sites and in one case the Internet as a whole. This was done while they get a firmer grip on the reality that they are paid to work not surf. While searching for answers can be productive, Facebook as far as I have seen has been a big waste of time. Some companies will use it wisely but like so many other things most will just waste time.

    Show me the ROI and you can have what you need. Just goof around and you can find another place to do that.

  9. J Patrick,

    Agreed on their being too many social apps. I assume they will weed themselves out. I just hope I don’t pick the wrong ones and invest the time only to have it be obsolete.

    Do you teach/encourage your employees to use these tools too? I think that becomes a much more manageable deal when there is a business reason (as well as a personal one) to use them during the work day.


  10. Gavin,

    This feels a little like parents restricting their kids music simply because they don’t understand it.

    When I think about my own employees and where they spend non productive time — I’ll bet the #1 culprit is personal e-mail. Are we going to ban that now too?


  11. Erin,

    You are describing a management philosophy that I have prescribed to for a long time. I call it “I hired grown ups.” I figure they know what needs to get done and they know when they have time to play a little and on the flip side, when they need to turn up the heat.

    And the reality is…they are going to play on occasion, whether you give them permission or not. After all, they are human!


  12. Mario,

    Sure — it’s the management’s job to ensure people are performing. And it’s the employee’s job to perform or prepare for a career change.

    But the truth of it is…there are a million ways to goof off. (I think I have tried all but 2!) Not allowing a certain website is hardly going to make the other 999,999 ways go away.


  13. God,

    Good to know that at the head office, Facebook has been given the green light!


  14. Tony,

    If people don’t wear gray suits to the office…my God, what will they wear?

    Do you want to dispel the myth now that people who work from home do it in their underwear?


  15. Cam,

    I am a big proponent of goofing off. I think it allows us to be creative on demand. Which in our business, is mandatory.


  16. Lew,

    In all seriousness, don’t you think you think fresher when you let yourself play now and then?

    And you’re right…we can eliminate ALL computer access and people will still find a way to play.


  17. Mike,

    A little play changes the attitude of a workplace, I believe.

    But…I don’t really think of Facebook as play time. I’m using it as a networking tool and a way to stay connected to personal AND business contacts. It’s LinkedIn + fun. Not really a bad thing to have in the office, me thinks.


  18. Mike,

    A little play changes the attitude of a workplace, I believe.

    But…I don’t really think of Facebook as play time. I’m using it as a networking tool and a way to stay connected to personal AND business contacts. It’s LinkedIn + fun. Not really a bad thing to have in the office, me thinks.


  19. Roger,

    See my comments above. I think if people want to goof off…they can stare at their navel and do that.

    While you may be right about Facebook (not sure I agree, but that’s okay) I don’t think its the toy. I think it’s the person playing with the toy that’s the problem. Take away one toy and they will find another.


  20. Zane says:

    Funny. It’s always ‘somebody’ else making ‘those employees’ do something bad. It’s a bit parental, really…

    When there’s no motivation, no engagement, no inspiration, no excitement, no leadership, no accountability…then a company’s management is going to blame…its employees and then external factors for its failures to…engage their employees, motivate them, make sure they understnad the importance and priority of their work, hold them accountable.

    If they do that…then ’employees aren’t bad’ and resources like FaceBook…are just that: a resource.

  21. Zane,

    I could not agree with you more. My management philosophy is pretty simple. I assume (and am grateful) that all of my employees are grown ups who are as motivated as I am to make our clients successful and our agency successful.

    I only change that POV if they prove me wrong. And you know what….in 12 years, very few have proven me wrong. And even in those circumstances, I hired badly or for the wrong reasons.

    It’s not the employees. It’s me.


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