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Does Facebook even belong in the enterprise?

John Brandon | Oct. 5, 2015
Sure, it may seem like your staff is spending far too much time checking their news feed, or ‘liking’ viral videos. But, beyond the privacy concerns, security risks and productivity issues, there are good reasons to allow Facebook in the office. Right?

Security becomes a problem when employees click links that take them to disreputable sites and they end up downloading malware. Fortunately, there are some technology-related solutions that can help mitigate these attacks. One tool, called SocialWare, is designed for risk management and compliance. It has features that allow admins to enable or disable features within Facebook. It tracks usage, so admins know if an employee has clicked a harmful link.

Bruce Milne, the executive vice president at SocialWare, says that it’s a smart strategy to split employees into groups and determine which features they actual need.

“Some may need research capabilities, some may be working on customer service and others may be leveraging their Facebook networks for lead generation,” he says, explaining that there’s a way to disable the “like” button or prevent employees from making comments or posting original articles, which can curb some privacy and security-related problems.

Productivity problems

Most of the experts who expressed concern about employees using Facebook in the enterprise said there is a growing problem related to productivity. It’s just too tempting to login and chat with your buddy across town or browse through your daughter’s vacation photos.

Outright bans don’t work, says Bill Fish, president of Employees feel as though they are being treated like children, he says. It’s become nearly impossible to restrict access, especially with an emerging trend of smaller companies skipping a Web domain altogether and using Facebook instead, and with a growing number of private groups on Facebook designed for professionals to exchange ideas and articles.

“The last thing you want to do as a manager is hinder your employees from doing their job. As long as some general rules are laid out in terms of using the platform, you should respect and trust your staff enough to handle themselves in a professional manner,” Fish says.

Business consultant Michelle Seiler-Tucker agrees that it’s impossible to ban Facebook. About 20 percent of the world population now uses it, she says. Yet, the social network is seriously hurting productivity in the enterprise. The issue is that employees tend to switch constantly between work and Facebook, or they find more social engagement with the network than the work they are supposed to be doing on the clock.

Facebook fixes

None of the experts suggested banning Facebook. There are benefits in business, not least of which is connecting with colleagues within your own company. Facebook has become a marketing platform, an intelligence-sharing tool and a way to get some legitimate relief from work itself.

“Sitting at a desk all day isn’t an easy task,” says Fish. “Every so often your brain needs a break from looking through spreadsheets. If this means that for five minutes an hour, a member of your team is looking at photos of her friend’s cat on Facebook, it isn’t the end of the world. It gives them an outlet to recharge their brain and get back to the tasks at hand.”


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