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Take a walk through any office, at any time of day, and you’re sure to see at least a few people using social media at their desks. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or other sites, the vast majority of workers spend at least some time on social networking each day.

At first glance, managers might view social media as a threat to productivity. After all, one might think, time spent on blogs or social networks is time that employees could be spending on their work duties instead. In reality, though, the issue is not so simple. Some research  shows that rather than pulling employees away from their jobs, social media actually makes them more productive. Not only do social media tools give workers a way to relieve stress during the day, they can help project team members communicate more effectively and gain new insights into their work.

Here’s a closer look at the complex connection between social media and productivity in the workplace.

Streamlined Communication

Social collaboration is rapidly replacing older workplace communication channels like email. Today’s workers, especially employees under the age of 35, communicate more comfortably and more effectively through collaborative tools that support group discussion and real-time interaction. Bringing social media tools into the workplace can help break down silos between departments and improve the flow of information throughout the entire enterprise.

Connecting Remote Employees

Project teams, especially within larger organizations, are rarely comprised of employees from a single office. Most enterprise projects involve a combination of internal and external stakeholders, dispersed over multiple time zones or continents. Traditional forms of communication simply don’t allow team members in these situations to connect with each other in meaningful ways. Social media, on the other hand, is an ideal way to create a sense of team among people who may never have met in person. Social collaboration tools encourage employees to share not only job-related information, but also the details of their lives outside of work. This helps team members form more personal connections, which in turn reduce tension and improve communication over the entire life of a project.

Engaging the Community

In many industries, project success depends at least in part on public response. Marketers, software developers and project managers in many other fields are constantly on the lookout for new ways to spread the word about what their teams are doing. When project team members are encouraged to post on social media about their accomplishments and upcoming events, the result is often an increase in engagement both within the project team and with the community as a whole. Assuming that project managers set reasonable guidelines to protect confidential information and brand integrity, social media typically improves, rather than hinders, project outcomes.

If you’re looking for social collaboration tools that are a bit more professional than Facebook, check out Clarizen’s suite of social collaboration tools.

Doug Uptmor
Doug Uptmor, Director of Content