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The Growing Case for Facebook in the Workplace

Remember when the squawking over social media in the workplace was deafening? You should — it was practically yesterday. Running a search for ‘social media at work’ nowadays will still yield articles like, How to Disguise Facebook as a Common Spreadsheet, but right alongside that we also get: Why CEOs Should Allow Facebook in the Workplace.

A Trending Argument

It’s a transformation that’s making more than just a few people uncomfortable (research shows that in 2010 50 percent of CEOs prohibited the use of social media at work), but the reasoning behind it is getting harder to ignore. Keas and Column Five put together a cool infographic that highlights a few of the more convincing benefits of making social platforms a part of your work day, including health, happiness and — surprise, surprise! — an increase in productivity:

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“Overall evidence suggests that when allowed a few minutes of free time, employees are happier and more productive,” reads the graphic. “What if management took it one step further and brought back the idea of recess?” (I love this idea.)

Research giants are also tuned in. Earlier this year Gartner released findings that claim fewer than 30 percent of large organizations will block social media by 2014, and I’d be willing to bet that when that time comes we’ll find it to be much fewer.

“Even in those organizations that block all access to social media, blocks tend not to be complete,” said Andrew Walls, Gartner’s research VP. “Certain departments and processes, such as marketing, require access to external social media, and employees can circumvent blocks by using personal devices such as smartphones.”

Work-Life Balance Integration

And so for all the naysayers out there, here’s the thing: the sheer magnitude of social media coupled with the rise of mobile makes social at work an unavoidable thing. And in Steven Johnson’s words: “Facebook is on the cusp of becoming a medium unto itself—more akin to television as a whole than a single network, and more like the entire web than just one online destination.”

Here’s the other thing: balancing acts are kind of a bummer. Anyone who can actually stick to a schedule that precisely maps out when they’ll work and when they’ll play deserves to be saluted, but most people find such confines to be too tight. In addition to denying ourselves the constant connection we increasingly crave, schedules don’t leave room for unpredictable — yet inevitable — disruption (e.g. a sudden behemoth of a project, your kid telling you last minute about his school play, a family emergency, etc.).

In the end I think what the ubiquitous nature of Facebook and other networks will quite literally force us to accept is that we no longer have to define ourselves as “career-focused” or “life-focused.” Now we can be both. And why fight that?

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