Entries from November 2009 ↓

Access, intimacy, and the workplace

Bob LeDrew tweeted the link to this video from TED, featuring Stefana Broadbent. It runs about 9 minutes and the connection between Stefana’s observations about how the Internet fosters intimacy and companies blocking access comes near the end. Stick with it; it’s worthwhile.

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I’m making sure this blog is listed with Technorati, which requires a code be entered in a post. So here goes:

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Does lack of familiarity breed contempt?

I’ve been wondering if there’s any research to suggest that those making the decision to block employee access to social media are mostly non-users of these technologies. There’s anecdotal evidence that organizations that reject blocking are led by people who recognize the value of social media based on their own engagement with it, while the comments of those who defend blocking suggest a high degree of unfamiliarity with the sites they are banning.

I routinely read quotes from executives who have blocked access insisting, for instance, that time spent on Facebook produces no business value. In the meantime, those leaders who are active on Facebook have sussed the business value based on their own interactions — the ability to identify new hires, to hear directly from customers, to evangelize the organization and its products, and so on.

According to a survey from the Government Executive Business Council, half of federal mangers don’t use Facebook at all,and nearly 15% use it less than once per week. Close to 60% of this group has never logged into LinkedIn; 23% it less than once a week. More than 80% said they never Tweet. Seven percent log on less than once each week.

There is no correlation in the study between this lack of familiarity with networks (an obvious consequence of never examining them) and efforts to keep employees from accessing them, but you have to figure these federal managers would be more inclined to buy into the hype and succumb to the temptation to keep employees away from Facebook and other new-media venues. Formal research would probably produce interesting results.

In the meantime, since we’re talking about federal managers here, if the administration is serious about getting government to pursue transparency, collaboration and participation with the public, I agree with NextGov blogger Allan Holmes, who suggests, the government “may want to first encourage federal managers to use these tools.”

(Allan, how about a link to the survey results?)

Hat tip to Tony Molloy for pointing me to the post.