For Development or Distraction?
It can prove to be a challenge nowadays, for companies and managers to keep the millennial or gen Z employees focused on the work they're supposed to be doing rather than on the devices that keep inviting every form of distraction cluttered around in offices. So, should social media be openly accessible in work-places? If they are, to what extent can their use be justified during work hours?
Companies like Marico Bangladesh Limited, Philip Morris International, Unilever Bangladesh Limited, Grameenphone etc. give liberty to its employees in terms of all kinds of social media usage. Some like British American Tobacco Bangladesh go as far as to paying for employees' mobile phone bills and allowing them to access whatever they want to in the office, as long as it is via mobile internet.
However, organisations like HSBC Bangladesh, Robi Axiata Limited, BRAC Bank Ltd, Samsung, and ACI have got varying policies for employees' social media regulation.
Anika Tasnim Ruhi, Brand Executive at Pharma Marketing Department at ACI Limited says, "In many ways social media is just another in a long line of workplace distractions, and ACI takes measures to contain its unrestrained use within employees. I am on-board with my organization's policy to restrict access to Facebook and Instagram from official devices. We can neither afford to, nor accommodate this indulgence if we intend to wrap up work at a godly hour. But as a Pharma Marketer, social media for me is more of a weapon than a source of distraction. For example, Viber is indispensable considering my field of work, and with an open office set-up like the one I am accustomed to here, so is YouTube. My office allows free access to these from all devices, because are necessary in employees' line of work."
Research has shown time and again that besides providing an effective communication platform and break-from-work opportunities, social media directly and indirectly enable employees to develop professional connections and foster personal relationships with co-workers. So as an employee, how exactly do you strike the right balance with the use of social media, then?
"In this day and age, one cannot go without the use of social media, be it to help the staff with blowing off some steam in between the stressful work hours or promoting the company-work through them as and when needed. Strictly monitoring social media use or even blocking their access will probably in no way cure the distraction or bring a permanent fix to the problem. So rather, implicitly inducing it in the work culture should be the way to go." says Oroni Sheikh*, an employee in the logistics department of the same company.
Rakib Ibnay Hossain from BATB talks on a similar note saying, "We're all adults here, and everyone has to be mindful of their own responsibility once employed. It really is a personal decision as to how someone will make use of this privilege of free social media usage, if its use is granted as per company policy. As long as the job gets done properly and timely, it shouldn't matter how much time someone spends on social media while in the office."
Continuing on a similar note, Ahmed Tashfiq Rafsan, employed as a Management Trainee at Marico Bangladesh Limited, says "Empowerment and trust towards employees and whatever they choose to do with their time at work is practiced at my organisation. The management is well aware that regardless of blocks and restrictions put up against social media usage, it is likely that employees will be using it without their knowledge. So despite the risks and doubts associated to it, management welcomes social media usage at work by highlighting all the positive sides, instead of banning or curbing its use."
Holding up employees' interests and concentration in 9 to 10, sometimes 12 hours' desk jobs can be quite challenging. Social media can be made use of as a reward-generating mechanism in such a demographic.
Shahrukh Ikhtear from Grameenphone addresses this idea saying, "If the work employees are engaged in is rewarding enough in a company that allows full freedom in terms of social media usage, then the employees themselves will regulate their usage of social media. Motivating employees intrinsically by giving them standard work and thereupon rewarding them with free social media use or some other form of recognition can be an alternative course of action to be taken, to avoid wastage of time during office hours."
With the lines between "personal" and "professional" becoming increasingly blurred when things are online, it is justified for many companies to be anxious to maintain specific guardrails to ensure that no company secrets or brand negativity are publicly shared online through social media.
Saleh Ahmed* from BRAC Bank Limited says, "Whether or not interval-usages or time allocation measures to restrain social media use at work are present, it is crucial that employees' personal lives are kept segregated. Keep in mind that anything that is posted on social media is written in permanent ink and cannot be erased, even if it can be deleted, which makes it all the more necessary for companies these days to explicitly outline its online sharing policies mentioning all the dos and don'ts."
*names have been changed to ensure discretion