Employer attitudes to social media

I often hear from library collegaues working at company libraries or some governmental libraries that: “we’re not allowed to use this or that web appplication because…” Yes, because what?

Just read a great column in a recent Econtent magazine issue with title: Trust Your Employees (Or Fire Them)”, written by David Meerman Scott. Great readings! He says:

“I estimate that more than 25% of companies block employee access to YouTube, Facebook, and other social networking sites”.

What I heard from people I met they can’t use for example Skype, Gmail, Facebook, not even allowed to install anything else than what the data technician are allowed to install of all that property software, so goodbye Google Earth, Skype etc. etc. So, what are the reasons. David lists four reasons. Often people don’t know the reason and if they know they always say it’s because of security issues. Reason 2 in David’s article. But actually I think it’s often because employer’s think it’s a drain to productivity (reason 1), though blame it on security issues and that way puts the responsibility to argue with employees at the IT department. Exactly as David points out:

“I think the big issue here is really one of trust, and the things listed by company representatives as dangers are just excuses”.

Gosh, I must give my employer at Umeå university a big hug! I don’t know since how long I have been allowed to install software, allowed to use any social media site I prefer. Because of this possibility I very early for example was able to evaluate Facebook (and then block all what I think stupid applications), switch to tremendous Gmail (with splendid IMAP) that saved so much time for my e-mail managing no other e-mail client or service ever did, Skyping fast, easy, cheap with headset, I’ve discovered the golden power of microblogging for information sharing.

That’s why I’m able to have talks and workshops for these retricting companies telling them about the power of social media and other usable web applications. They look at me like they were farmers still using horses, trying to understand tractors which their landlord block them to try.

To worried employer’s David says:

“My recommendation to organizations is simple: Develop guidelines about what employees can and cannot do at work”.

To irritated employees David says:

“If you’re an employee who works for a company that blocks access, I suggest you become an agent of change. Give your bosses a copy of this column”.