The increasing rise of social media bans in work environments is being frowned upon by Microsoft, as new results from a two-year study found that using social media at work increases productivity. Therefore, a new Microsoft global survey concurs, “Nearly half of employees report that social tools at work help increase their productivity, but more than 30% of companies underestimate the value of these tools and often restrict their use.”
A total of 9,908 information workers in 32 countries were surveyed in the study conducted by Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). This survey found that 39% of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces, and 40% believe social tools help encourage stronger teamwork. Additionally, 31% said they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.
According to the numbers, it is easy to conclude that banning social media in the workplace is becoming useless. In a separate study, conducted by KMPG, found that job satisfaction is a clear indicator to keep social media alive in the office. This is because 63% of employees at organizations with open policies on social media said they were satisfied with their job, and in opposition, only 41% of employees with social media restrictions said they were satisfied with their job—a 22% difference.
Nancy Baym, who wrote on the Microsoft Research Social Media Collective Blog, said, “We are learning that blocking and banning policies are ineffective, giving traditionalist supervisors a false sense of control that, in reality, has been slipping away for years.”
Joe Nandhakumar, a professor of information systems at Warwick Business School, collaborated with the team in the two-year study. He made a point with saying companies treated email as a distraction when it first came out, and even treated the telephone as a distraction in work environments. Therefore, he suggests that businesses should change because social media has become a fact of life.
In the end, anything can be a distraction—coworkers, a computer, and even daydreaming. However, it’s the way you utilize these distractions by turning them into something positive. Working with people equals teamwork, using a computer equals a tool for research, and daydreaming equals creativity. What can your company do to use social media as a positive? Well, that is up to you.