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Microsoft study smashes social workplace productivity myths

Submitted by on June 6, 2013 – 9:08 amNo Comment


Offices blocking access to social networks take heed: using social media at work actually increases productivity.

According to a two-year study by Microsoft, which surveyed 10,000 respondents across 32 countries, 46% of people believe that access to social media tools increase their productivity, yet more than 30% of companies underestimate the value of these tools and restrict their use.

Other key takeaways from the study show that 39% of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplace, with 40% saying they believe social tools help foster better teamwork. Surprisingly, 31% said they were willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.

“First of all, we’re starting to understand the very premise – that social media usage inhibits productivity – is a myth,” wrote Nancy Baym on the Microsoft Research Social Media Collective blog. “It’s not just that the premise is wrong – we’re also learning that blocking and banning policies are ineffective, giving traditionalist supervisors a false sense of control that, in reality, has been slipping away for years.”

Baym also makes valid points regarding the blurring of lines between work and social lives. According to the report, previous surveys have found that 63% of workers surveyed said their bosses emailed them on weekends and expected a response either often or from time to time. Only 37% said that never happened. Another recent study found that more than 80% of workers continued to work at home after leaving the office, adding more than a month of overtime work annually.

In response, Baym notes:

“Given the ubiquity of mobile media, the fact that many find it useful to work outside of work hours, and the general breakdown of the 9-to-5 work day, perhaps letting workers use social media at work – whether consumer or enterprise-grade – is not so much a question of productivity, but of fairness. If work now has a place in our social time, why shouldn’t social time have a place at work? Fair’s fair.”

The report’s full findings can be seen in the below infographic.

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