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Social media’s effect on workplace productivity

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Does employee access to social media in the workplace enhance or reduce productivity?

  • Enhances productivity, but only for certain job types.  35.87%
  • Reduces productivity.  28.62%
  • Jury is still out.  27.17%
  • Enhances productivity across the board.  8.33%

Surprisingly, there are a number of sources that suggest access to social media can increase productivity. For example, ReadWriteWeb last year reported on a study done by Australian scientists that stated access to sites such as Facebook and YouTube could increase productivity by as much as 9%. RWW went on to say that using social technologies for on-topic work could make that number look pale by comparison.

How can social media be used to benefit the workplace? One source notes social media can help with tasks as diverse as collaboration and recruiting, going so far as to recommend that companies should allow employees to set their own guidelines.

Personally, I think it’s too early to suggest that access to social networks in a workplace environment increases productivity across the board. I do think it has the potential, certainly does in particular job types. In fact, I don’t see how those in marketing, PR and communications could do their jobs without it.