Banning Facebook sends the wrong message

Facebook office signJeremy Newman, the Managing Director of BDO Stoy Hayward in the UK, provides real leadership and an inspiration across the pond to me and no doubt others who read about his management style and philosophy. He writes about workplaces banning Facebook, which is very popular right now here in Toronto among employers.

I am not sure how effective this will be at increasing staff productivity – which is presumably the intended effect. To be consistent I guess they also need to ban personal telephone calls and emails during office hours. Personally I prefer to trust people.

That’s a breath of fresh air coming from someone in his position. I would expect the employees of Stoy Hayward appreciate being treated like responsible adults. From the comments, by “russell”:

Rather than banning things companies should look to understand what makes it such a powerful medium and explore opportunities to engage with employees through such social networking sites.

He’s on the mark with the sentiment, which some businesses have already taken to heart. Especially in the profession, where potential employees are already users, keen on new technology, especially when it helps them meet people and build relationships, and looking for something to differentiate between what are essentially different flavours of vanilla.

Banning any site sends existing employees the wrong message, and failing to leverage the social network will hinder the growth of the firm when it comes to attracting the top young minds entering the profession.

12 thoughts on “Banning Facebook sends the wrong message

  1. Banning Facebook, or any other non-work-related site is not going to achieve its desired effect to increase productivity simply because workers will find some other way to goof off – they will go to some other site or use a more traditional means of being unproductive, like gossiping with coworkers. If workers are spending too much time on Facebook, it is because they 1) are not assigned or can’t find enough work to keep them busy throughout the day, or 2) are lazy. Management needs to use traditional, non-technical supervisory techniques to deal with either problem; relying on technology to deal with the issue (ie. blocking non-work-related websites) is a copout.

  2. Not only that, but it means that the company believes there’s nothing productive its employees can accomplish with fcbk. What does that say about their attitude towards innovation?

  3. The banning of IM is also baffling to me. If you think someone uses it too much for goofing off…then fire them. Otherwise, let me organize my life as I see best and you will have a happy employee that uses technology efficiently to goof-off and to perform my job.

  4. I agree with you all (because you all agreed with me first).

    Chris – Hope you can blog more frequently in the future! It’s been few and far between from you lately. :)

  5. You are all a bunch of clowns. You make great arguments as to why you shouldn’t ban facebook or instant messaging… but you don’t argue why they should allow it. The only reason employees want to use facebook is for non-work related purposes. And don’t try to argue that facebook is about professional networking, Neil posts pictures of himself topless with a lampshade on his head, if anything facebook and instant messaging is detrimental to our professional careers. So keep arguing about how your ‘rights’ are being violated, but the truth is facebook is non-work related. So try focusing on why you should have it (as opposed to why its bad to ban things at work) and you’ll realize how silly you sound.

    Go play some sports and stop wasting time on the computer.

  6. Phil, I hope your comment doesn’t indicate the level of discourse we can expect on this blog now that everyone in my office knows about it! For those of you who don’t work with me, this blog was mentioned at BDO Dunwoody’s AGM as a shining example the direction the firm wants to go in terms of new media marketing efforts!

    It doesn’t matter why employees want to use Facebook, banning a website that doesn’t tie up resources (i.e. YouTube) sends the message that employees are not trusted by managers to do the right thing.

    Phil and I and some others from our office also won the rec league slo-pitch championship this past Thursday, so that’s probably where the “play some sports and stop wasting time on the computer” remark makes the least sense.

    Phil, quit hating on Facebook and embrace social networking!

    (Phil’s comment is presented in its unedited form. Both his and my comments do not reflect the opinions of our employer.)

  7. Neil’s very much into sports, so the lame troll attack, while I nice sign of Neil’s growing readership, is nevertheless … just a lame troll attack. Reminds me of the movie Clerks 2 where someone sits at a computer all day at work attacking blogs.

    Somehow, I doubt people from Neil’s office are here, it’ll actually push up the level of discourse. Or increase traffic a bit, anyway.

    On another serious note, informed readers know that fcbk is finally responding to the fact that your colleague at work is not necessarily in the same circle as your friends from university and they’re developing a “groups’ feature that’ll introduce ‘friend segregation’ to you can customize who-sees-what at a more granular level than the current full/limited/none access model. That should no doubt help the rah-rah, business crowd.

    And after spending a few minutes on LinkedIn this afternoon, I don’t see LI going anywhere – it must be one of the cruftiest interfaces I’ve seen around.

  8. I like LinkedIn more and more as Facebook gets busier and more useless for accomplishing tasks. Plus, I don’t appreciate receiving email from Applications I don’t have installed. That’s just spam. LinkedIn has started to really grow on me. I like the idea of friend segregation though.

  9. Just change your e-mail notification settings to kill the e-mails. :)

    I had a discussion with a friend yesterday about PS3 controls. He argued that I just need to get used to the interface.

    No, I believe I can quickly determine if an interface is well designed or poorly designed.

    Gamepads for first-person shooter games are a bad idea. And this kludgy LI thing doesn’t appeal to me either. Oh look, contacts from my company… who I’ve never heard of. The site really irritates me in an irrational manner. :)

  10. I think what appeals to me about LinkedIn is that I’ve been reasonably successful finding clients on it, compared to Facebook. It’s a good way to make a connection professionally.

  11. Haven’t seriously gone into adding clients. Perhaps I will. It all feels so cyber-stalkerish. Especially with their formal “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network” default introductory messages. Ick.

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