Facebook costs business £1.4bn? Absolute rubbish

There’s a survey doing the rounds today saying that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are costing UKPLC £1.4bn in lost productivity. This sort of narrow-minded reactionary drivel really scuffs my nostrils.

The survey says workers spend an average of 40 minutes on social networkings sites every week, which amounts to a ‘almost a week out of every year’. I’d love to work somewhere with 32 hour week. But that’s not the point – I’m not protesting about the sums. Nor even the ludicrousness of the claims (though I wonder what affect more roughage in our diet is having on the length of toilet breaks? And how much time is lost to blinking?).

What really annoys me is that the survey fails to recognise the way our work patterns are changing. If we check social media sites at work  it’s likely we also check work email at home. In fact, now that we have smartphones, we’re constantly connected – and for many people, that means constantly on the job.

Work isn’t always binary thing: it doesn’t switch on at 9am and off at 5.30. It doesn’t pause for exactly 60minutes at lunch. It’s a flow, and one that all-too-often threatens to overwhelm everything else. Social networking is a lifeline, a sanity check. It’s also a great way for a business to connect to its employees and its customers.

What’s needed is a sophisticated approach to technology and work patterns that can be beneficial for all involved – something that almost every board and IT manager is struggling to understand. But pernicious little surveys like this one provide an excuse to reach for the ‘off’ switch.

But hey, the survey was commissioned by an IT services provider – that’s probably the way they’re used to solving tech problems.

In real life, the easy answer is usually the wrong one.