Quit Blaming Social Media for Lost Workplace Productivity

Quit Blaming Social Media for Lost Workplace Productivity

Jan 31, 2013

I read an article on Mashable (Infographic) the other day on how Social Media is costing businesses 650 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.

The article implies the need for tighter controls while spewing a list of statistics related to the vast availability of Social Media in the workplace. It was profound if nothing else.

One of my favorite examples was how they spelled out that Social Media is costing companies 7x more money than smoke breaks do. Really?

Perhaps we should fire everyone we catch using social media at work? Wouldn’t this solve it? Creating environments of fear and paralysis for those who use social media. Of course at this point we wouldn’t have a work force because even grandmother has a Facebook page. Not to mention that type of leadership works so well (Snark).


Perhaps we should fire the people who spend inordinate amounts of time doing research on people using social media at work. What will they come up with next? I can see it now an infographic on “Personal relationships cutting into corporate profits.” They could recommend that personal relationships are the reason companies aren’t hitting earning targets. (Falls out of chair)

I don’t question for a minute that social media is utilized in the workplace, often in ways that wouldn’t be deemed productive for the particular organizations business goals.

But where in this analysis does it add back for opportunity cost where time is spent on social media rather than at the water cooler, or old school web surfing or daydreaming? Social Media isn’t the first workplace distraction to ever rear its ugly head.

Additionally, the infographic doesn’t once try to include how today’s connected employee puts in way more hours due to their constant tie to their work. How does this impact their productivity? If they are spending a bit of time on Social platforms during the day, but working off-hours to make up for it does that equate to lost productivity?

Further, I don’t see a single attempt to justify how Social connectivity has helped both businesses and the individuals that serve these businesses to reach audiences around the world that would never have been exposed to their products or services had their employees not been on the social web.


Bottom line is that productivity, or lack thereof, probably hasn’t changed that much due to social media. Like every trend that shifts the way people interact and communicate, the movement to Social has provided a new distraction for employees at work.

However, this productivity killer is just the newest.

So consider the source and try to also think about the fact that for as long as employees have worked for companies, there have always been those that will take every opportunity not to work.

Social Media, while making their wasted time more personally rewarding probably didn’t turn a highly productive worker into a time wasting profit killer. Rather it is more of the same…

Employees that want to waste time and have access to social media will use it. Take it away and they will waste their time somewhere else.

Employees that understand what they need to get done could have the same access and will still get it done.

In the end, don’t blame the medium, hire better people.

Next Post: Infographics- What a total load of #$%! (Don’t wait up)


Easy for people to find simple answers that blame everyone but them selves. Before Social Media it was Ebay and before that it was people using the phone. As you say there is always a way to blame someone or something else than just take responsibility. Social Median over use or abuse is a symptom of people wanting to find some way to goof off and not the cause of lots productively. 


As the growth in Social media platforms increases steadily many are questioning the impact that their use may have on productivity in the workplace. Another issue is the affect that ill considered communications by employees may have on the reputation of companies.


Daniel, couldn't have said it better myself particularly around the point about nobody cares if you make up the hours PLUS SOME to make up for some social time during the day. It's like the person that's on the modified schedule where they come in at 7am but get dirty looks when they leave at 4. I see some progression in companies out there but corporate america has a ways to go in this area.


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