Facebook in the Workplace: Boon or Bane?

Have you ever found yourself secretly playing a game on your office computer, only to swiftly switch tabs with Alt + Tab at the slightest sign of your boss approaching? If you’re even a second late, you might end up getting a lecture on work ethics from your boss.

It’s common for employers to discourage such distractions, but what about Facebook, minus the games? Is it possible for employees to remain productive at work while having free access to it? Beyond just games, Facebook can also serve as a platform for self-expression and stress relief during work. So, the question arises: can Facebook be a truly effective tool for managing work-related stress? Let’s explore this topic.

Organizational Culture

In my view, whether employees can access Facebook often depends on the organizational culture. In simple terms, organizational culture encompasses the psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and values of an organization. The level of freedom and trust extended to employees can influence an employer’s decision to limit or prohibit certain non-work related activities.

facebook addiction

Indeed, the greater the freedom one has, the more control they are likely to feel. In the realm of industrial-organizational psychology, the level of control an individual has over their job can significantly predict their job satisfaction and stress levels. Consequently, limiting access to social media like Facebook can reduce employees’ control over their job, potentially leading to lower satisfaction and increased stress at work.

Restricting access to Facebook is often seen as a sign of distrust by employers towards their employees. Moreover, any form of control over employees’ activities can diminish trust. Additionally, such measures may not even be effective given the widespread use of smartphones today.

Facebook Addiction

Similarly to how one can become addicted to gaming, addiction to Facebook is also a possibility. Employers are rightly concerned about employees frequently checking Facebook, which can become excessive and disruptive.

facbook mobile

Complicating matters, Facebook can be more addictive than games due to its dynamic nature—regular updates from friends can be particularly distracting during mundane or repetitive tasks at work.

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More Than a Game

Facebook transcends mere gaming; it’s a robust social platform. Users can interact with friends, share and view photos, comments, and status updates, and engage actively with their social circles.

Although some experts argue that such platforms do not facilitate genuine interactions, it’s undeniable that people often use Facebook to fulfill their social needs. In our busy lives, could a platform like Facebook actually enhance workplace productivity by meeting employees’ social needs and reducing their stress?

people using facebook

There is an argument that relying on digital communication for social needs might disrupt workplace unity. Could the reliance on Facebook for social interactions diminish face-to-face communication among colleagues? If so, productivity could suffer as some attention is diverted to socializing online rather than fostering meaningful relationships with co-workers.

Solution: Setting Ground Rules?

Given these concerns, might it be beneficial for companies to establish some guidelines? On one hand, employers need to build trust by allowing more job control, as a happy employee tends to be more productive.

On the other hand, it is crucial for employers to ensure that Facebook use does not interfere with work. Facebook’s addictive nature could potentially replace valuable in-person interactions at work.

Clearly, there is a need to find a balance between keeping employees content and motivated to work. What if we designate specific times for activities like checking Facebook, such as during lunch or tea breaks? At this juncture, one might wonder why not completely ban Facebook at work? According to PCWorld, outright banning Facebook at work is not recommended.

One ‘But’: The Rise of Smartphones

With the widespread use of smartphones like iPhones, restricting access to Facebook at work may be futile. These multipurpose devices allow anyone to easily access their Facebook, play games, and more.

facebook notifications

Unless a company is strict enough to ban the use of such smartphones, there’s not much that employers can do. Ultimately, a significant part of the responsibility rests on the employees’ shoulders.

My Two Cents’ Worth: It All Boils Down to Work Culture

Considering it may not be practical to restrict Facebook access, especially as employees today have greater control over their work activities due to advanced technology like smartphones, is there no way for employers to manage Facebook use to maintain optimal productivity?

In my opinion, the most effective way to influence employee behavior is through the organization’s culture. Interestingly, the impact of a strong work culture is often more enduring than the imposition of strict rules and regulations.

facebook at workplace

This is akin to how a country maintains order through laws. When people understand the reasons behind laws, they are more likely to abide by them willingly and feel content with their governance. Conversely, if the purpose of a law is unclear, people might only comply out of fear of punishment, and more are likely to challenge such laws.

Productivity, The Ultimate Goal

Returning to the core issue, in any organization, it’s crucial for employers to foster the right working attitude in employees. They need to understand that the ultimate goal is productivity and, increasingly important, teamwork.

The guideline should be clear: employees are free to access Facebook whenever they like, but not at the expense of their productivity or their relationships with colleagues. With this approach, employees feel trusted to make their own decisions, leading to higher job satisfaction and motivation to fulfill their duties.

Developing a strong work ethic is also vital. If employees routinely access Facebook during work hours without regard for their tasks, it’s likely that this behavior will influence new employees to do the same.

Thus, the importance of building a positive and productive work culture cannot be overstated.