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Using Social Media at Work: How Much is Too Much?

10 October 2018

4 Min Read


The ability to effectively multi-task is a sought-after quality in the workplace. While it’s true that the human brain can’t do two or more things simultaneously, it’s essential to be able to switch seamlessly and quickly between tasks. After all, most employees will have multiple windows open on their browser when they are at the office.

You’ll have a Word document open in one window, several tabs active in the browser for the topic you’re researching, plus a PowerPoint slide presentation in progress off to the side. But wait, what’s this? A Facebook notification appears on the screen. You’re psyched that someone LOLed at your latest post. That sure is a powerful hit of dopamine to rival the espresso you polished off only a few hours ago. You refresh the browser and wait until a new comment appears on the post. Refresh, lol, repeat. You glance at the clock. Two hours have passed, and now you’re behind on that PowerPoint presentation! What to do?

While social media has crept into every aspect of our private lives, it’s also elbowed its way into the workplace. Progressive companies hold the view that social media is an incredibly powerful and effective way to foster a connection between employees and clients. But some companies view social media as the enemy of progress. The previous scenario indeed isn’t far-fetched. It’s far too easy to get caught up in a newsfeed and lose track of time. Some companies have even gone so far as to block all social media sites so employees can stay focused on the job.  But is a carte blanche ban on social media at work always a good thing? Moderation is critical, and in fact, social media use at work can help an employee’s productivity. Keep in mind the following tips and studies when determining how much social media use is too much at the office.

Check the company policy

If you want to keep your boss happy with your social media use, check the company policy before logging into your profiles. Half of all companies have a formal policy in place for social media use while employees are on the clock. Be sure to educate yourself on how your workplace views social media. Check with your co-workers, or ask your boss for the specific guidelines.

If there’s no policy in place, you can get a feel for your workplace’s general attitude toward social media use by merely taking a look around. Do your coworkers use it? Have you seen your boss tweeting before her lunch break? Then it’s probably all right to use social media in moderation at work.

Know yourself

Even if using social media while clocked-in is all right with your company, you may still want to shy away from checking your feeds. Why? Well, if you’re prone to losing track of time, mindlessly scrolling through your feed for hours, don’t even tempt yourself with it. And people who are prone to mindless scrolling display more depressive symptoms and anxiety than average. If you have trouble moderating your social media use, or using it makes you feel anxious and insecure, it’s best to stay clear so you can stay productive while at the office.

Moderation is key

Several recent studies and surveys from UC Irvine and the University of Melbourne indicate that there are right ways and wrong ways to use social media when you’re at work. In essence, moderation is key. Overall, the studies from UC Irvine and the University of Melbourne support the notion that social media use is beneficial for employee productivity.

Employees who scrolled through their feed for only a couple of minutes while at work were able to clear their heads, and return to their job with better focus and drive.

The Pew Research Center delved deeper into workplace social media use. Here’s what they found:

  • 34% of employees used social media to stay connected with loved ones
  • 27% used it for professional reasons only
  • 20% used it to help them solve work-related tasks
  • 17% used social media to build rapport with their coworkers
  • 12% used social media to pose work-related questions to coworkers and people outside of their jobs

Overall, people are using social media to increase their workplace productivity. The key to using social media in the workplace is to use it for specific, work-related tasks or as a quick mental palate cleanser. The research also indicates that companies should adopt useful guidelines outlining social media use in the workplace.

It’s not helpful for employee productivity to outright ban social media from the office. Social media, when harnessed correctly, can help worker productivity and satisfaction. At Schoox, we believe keeping employees engaged and happy will grow your business. Leveraging the power of social media with common-sense guidelines will lead to better employee engagement at the office.

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