Ok, I joined Facebook last week. I now have 131 friends that I can share my family pictures with, and more importantly, share the important facets of my life...like "I'm sitting on a airplane going to Cincinnati," or "I'm freezing at my son's soccer game," etc.
So far, I've caught up with some college friends, a few former high school teammates, some clients and prospects, a high school girlfriend and I now know when everyone leaves town for vacation or gets the flu.
The problem is that I found out most of these things at the office.....when I should have been actually working to make a profit for my business.
As any business owner will attest, employee focus is one of the most difficult challenges in helping employees become successful. Social networking (even though I use and love) is yet another distraction for many workers.
I'm now on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, all great tools, but here is the question: When are these tools helping me serve my customers and pay the company bills (the real reason we all work) and when are they sapping my productivity?
It's a tough question and a question all business owners will soon need to answer. Some businesses are banning Facebook from their company computers. Others are waiting to see how these tools flesh themselves out in future. I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer, we're all trying to learn and adapt to these social networking sites.
Now, since many have handheld, Blackberry-type devices, even if you ban Facebook from your company computers, employees are still within reach.
Could there be a day when cell phones and Blackberry devices are also banned from the office? It is happening in colleges.
When deciding to allow employees access, I think it comes down to the question I posed earlier: Does the employee's participation during business hours help your company reach its goals? Don't know the answer? You'd better start thinking about it because businesses of all sizes will soon have a big decision to make.
--Ron Ameln, SBM