Almost twelve times as many US firms block employee access to Facebook as block access to Playboy.com. The social networking site is the most blocked site at work – with 14.2% of all US workplaces blocking access. This is about six times as many as block access to Twitter (2.3%) and twelve times as many as block access to porn site Playboy.com according to an analysis of 2010 by Web service OpenDNS.
These statistics are based only on those sites that are blocked specifically by name – when you look at categories that are bl0cked outright, pornography and sexuality categories are blocked by over 80% of all workplaces. However, Facebook is held up on its own as a site that employees should be blocked from accessing. This trend for access to social networks to be blocked in the workplace is not new, nor is it surprising. It is, however, a sign that many firms are yet to fully embrace social media across their business.
Many workplaces, obviously, choose to control employees’ access to the Internet usually on grounds of productivity. “We don’t want employees spending all their time on Facebook or msn messenger”, the argument would go. Of course, in an era of smart-phones with quasi-unlimited access to the Internet, employees can spend as much time as they like at their desks browsing Facebook, chatting online and accessing other sites from their mobile.
But blocking sites like Facebook in the workplace is an indicator of more than just a lack of trust, or a need to stop employees from procrastinating during working hours. It is also a sign of how social the business is. We know businesses in the UK where employees are the only ones who are unable to access their brand’s successful Facebook page. Or brands where their employees are unable to view the videos they have created or the social media campaign they are running. This seems like a bizarre set of behaviours and serves to separate employees from the your brand in social media.
Employees should be the biggest advocates of your brand. They should be the ones you are engaging through social media and who represent your brand with what they say and do on social networks and other sites. Whilst encouraging employees to use Facebook rather than do their job is probably a step too far, an environment that acknowledges and respects the opportunities of social media will better prepare the whole business for how to use social media across the brand. If your employees are comfortable with social networks, and you don’t make the sites unattainable by blocking access to them, then you will find it easier to introduce social media across your business.
As perverse as it may seem to some, training you staff in social media (just as you would train them in other communication skills), is your best way of embedding social media across your organization. You will find it easier to develop social media activities that actually work and to embed them across their organization. You certainly won’t find this from Playboy.com.