by C.G. Lynch

Facebook Used at Work: What’s Next, Personal Phone Calls?

Jul 23, 2009 2 mins
Enterprise Applications

A new report says workers' productivity drops from using Facebook, but how is this different than their use of other technology?

A recent report revealing that nearly half of office workers visit Facebook during the day shouldn’t be cause for concern amidst the corporate ranks. In fact, many of these people remain ahead of their employers in understanding how people will communicate with one another in the future.

The report, which was conducted by Nucleus Research, a Boston-based consulting firm, randomly polled 237 office workers. It found that 77 percent of workers have a Facebook account. Of those, nearly two-thirds visited Facebook during the day for an average of 15 minutes.

One key “I told you so” statistic that corporate dinosaurs will cling to is that Nucleus estimates a 1.5 percent loss in productivity as a result of Facebook usage. Furthermore, 87 percent of employees who access Facebook at work during the day couldn’t find a discernible business reason for doing so.

Any new technology in the workplace brings an initial dip in productivity. When offices added telephones and later e-mail, people contacted friends and family, interacting with them during business hours. In fact, they still do so today.

Facebook will become more useful. Currently, Facebook remains a place for pictures, games and fun. But as more companies utilize its platform, however, that could change. WorkLight, for instance, has built connectors that securely bridge corporate apps into Facebook. has bridged Facebook to CRM and other cloud-based apps.

You might also argue that the erosion of the typical 9-5 schedule negates the need for these types of appraisals altogether. Slow and busy periods can come any time of day. For instance, if you spent your weekend finishing a project or stayed late during the week, you surrendered time normally reserved for friends and family because you made work a high priority. As a result, if you have a slow afternoon (on a weekday) and decide to cruise Facebook for a few minutes, you should feel entitled. You can’t predict a slow period; you attend to work as it comes.

Furthermore, people find other ways to waste time at work. Older workers e-mail friends from their Outlook account, which the dinosaurs find more palatable evidently. People who smoke cigarettes have found a loophole into gaining an extra hour of time away from their desk.

Of course, maybe Facebook will build an app for that, and save everyone some time.