As I turned on the light this morning in my downtown Peoria office, I was reminded of one reason I originally opted for an office --to have more social interaction and routine in my day. Previously, I had been a Sprint telecommuter, using the latest in Unified Communications technology to telecommute from my home. I spent my days interacting with my boss in London and with other colleagues, and have written before about how productive that kind of work arrangement can be, This Isn’t Your Father’s Telecommuting, UC, Web 2.0 and the Future of Collaboration, and Social Media Goes to Work.
Toward the end of my time with Sprint, my boss and fellow blogger Shaun Ledgerwood suggested that I go on a “world tour” (OK, maybe he really called it a “road show,” but one has a little creative license as a blogger). I understand why he suggested this. One-hundred percent telecommuting may not be the best situation for all employees--especially for me, with my role as an ambassador of technology and business.
Before I left Sprint, I used Facebook exclusively to connect with friends and family and LinkedIn exclusively to connect with professional colleagues and co-workers. Then after leaving and landing my first big contract as a consultant, I realized that I may have been wrong in believing that telecommuting with UC provided all of the presence needed to be productive. What I was missing was the opportunity to bond fully with co-workers on a purely social level.
My quick review of a few blogs on the subject show that enterprises are all over the map on their social media policies. Some ban Facebook altogether, some police it, and some encourage it. In the Dutch Daily News, for instance, I read an article about how Using Social Media at Work Stimulates Employee Creativity.
This article cites a two-year study involving more than 3,300 employees at different companies and concluded that “the use of social media stimulates employee creativity and thinking. This creates new ideas that can benefit businesses.” The Dutch researchers found no evidence that social media leads to emotional exhaustion by an ever-increasing information flow, as is sometimes claimed This validates my belief that physiologically, a short visit to Facebook during the day should provide smiles, laughter, and balance that makes the workday more productive, not less. My suggestion to enterprise CIOs is to encourage social media, but monitor it like any other web site (ESPN, NCAA.com, etc.)
But some of my professional friends aren't even on Facebook yet. You know who you are. Take that as an action item today, OK? I'd like to connect.