The BBC has a story about a survey that says businesses are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a day because employees are wasting time on Facebook and other social networking sites. According to this consulting firm, 233 million hours worth of work time is lost every day — and the firm recommends that more businesses ban or block Facebook, as both the Ontario government and Toronto City Hall have done recently.
I’m sure managers at all sorts of companies are nodding their heads at this kind of report. Those damn lazy workers — clicking around on Facebook wasting time when they could be working! There must be a way to stop them. As Stowe Boyd notes, it wasn’t that long ago that other technologies were the culprit. I can remember (yes, I’m extremely old) the same kind of attitude when PCs and Internet access started to become commonplace in offices. Give someone a PC, let alone Internet access? God forbid — then they’ll just piss the day away playing Minesweeper or Solitaire, or checking their email every ten minutes.
The reality is that employees who don’t like their jobs or aren’t properly motivated will always find ways of avoiding work. If you remove Facebook, or the Internet, or Solitaire, or even their PC they will waste time and avoid work by smoking, or taking long bathroom breaks, or doing a crossword puzzle from the newspaper, or staring out the window for hours at a time.
When it gets right down to it, Facebook is not the problem — Facebook is a symptom. And as Ethan Kaplan points out, if you are in any kind of businesses that deals with the general public and you can’t find a way to leverage those social networks, then you are doing something wrong.