Social media @ work: step away from that status update

Raise your hand if you browse Facebook during the work day. Put your hand down if your browsing is for work-related purposes.

Something tells me a lot of hands are still in the air.

But you’re not unlike the majority of workers, who, it turns out, just need to take a mental break from work now and then during the day, according to a poll by Pew Research Center.

More than 70 percent of adult internet users use Facebook. Chances are most of you are among the 70 percent. It’s difficult to find an adult who doesn’t use social media today. But social media use during work hours is a delicate topic. First things first: determine whether your employer has a social media policy. Then, learn it.

According to Pew Research Center:

Social media influences and permeates many aspects of daily life for Americans today, and the workforce is no exception. These digital platforms offer the potential to enhance worker productivity by fostering connections with colleagues and resources around the globe. At the same time, employers might worry that employees are using these tools for non-work purposes while on the job or engaging in speech in public venues that might reflect poorly on their organization.

So the research center conducted a survey to determine just what American workers are doing on social media during the work day. The results, while interesting, aren’t that surprising.

Social Media and the Workplace

Social Media and the Workplace

More than half of those surveyed (of more than 2,000 adults) use social media for personal use during work hours, and of those, most just need a mental break.

Who can relate?

But the rest of those surveyed are using their time on social media for work-related purposes (if, of course, to “learn about someone they work with” isn’t simply a nice way of saying to “look at photos from the party their boss attended last weekend,” which, let’s be real, isn’t productive, however entertaining it may be). Some are doing work-related research, others are strengthening relationships with colleagues, or making other professional connections.

While the use of social media at work is typically personal in nature, some jobs actually require social media use. Mine, for example, requires me to monitor company social media platforms. But am I guilty of some of the above uses of social media during the work day? Of course. We probably all are.

So if you’re looking for ways to avoid social media distractions during the work day, try some of these tips:

  1. Turn social media notifications off on your phone during work hours so you’re not distracted by what’s happening online.
  2. Restrict your cell phone use to breaks and lunch time. If that isn’t doable, limit your social media use to those defined times.
  3. If you’re itching to check your Facebook feed, ask yourself why. Are you looking for something specific? Or do you just need a mental break? If it’s the latter, find one quick work-related task you can accomplish before taking a minute or two to clear your mind on social media.

Does your work place have a social media policy? For what reasons are you using social media at work? Let us know in the comments.


About Krista Ledbetter

Krista Ledbetter comes from a newspaper reporting background. Several years, tweets, and a career shift later, she keeps busy as a brand journalist for TDS Telecom. You're most likely to find her running or on the couch--hers or otherwise. She enjoys both in equal measure.

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