Surveys abound about the way e-mail has invaded our lives, for better or worse. Now it seems that social networking sites are quickly becoming the scourge of the new millennium.
The most recent survey on the subject-and let's face it, there have been many-confirms what many of us already know: We spend far too much time trying to harness and control our inbox. And the more e-mail accounts, the greater the e-mail agita.
'The New New Inbox-How Email and Social Media Changed Our Lives,' a survey of 1,000 business workers by People-OnTheGo founder and CEO Pierre Khawand, finds that people are downright overwhelmed by their e-mail-respondents to the survey spend an average of 3.27 hours per day on managing the influx of messages that flood their inbox. (In corporate time, that pretty much means the time between the morning latte and the lunchtime blue plate special.)
More than 67 percent said they regularly monitor multiple inboxes, and almost 66 percent of participants reported interrupting their work constantly or too often just to check those inboxes.
Social media, too, is eating up a fair amount of time during corporate hours: Respondents reported spending an average 1.18 hours per day updating their status and monitoring their social network sites.
The majority of the survey respondents-almost 72 percent-said they use social media for both work and personal reasons. Of those, 58.5 percent check Facebook regularly, 47.9 percent check LinkedIn regularly, 22.6 percent check Twitter, and 21.9 percent read blogs.
Companies that believe this is a temporary problem are living a dream. Social networking is what instant messaging was 10 years ago-a cool application that at some point became an important business communication tool. Unfortunately, most companies haven't figured out how to successfully use social media tools to their advantage. I am loath to think of one company that sets the standard for effective social media presence.
It's for that reason that many companies view social media as a boogeyman-and a passing fad. But smart companies need to recognize that social media is here to stay. And, like e-mail, it has a certain addictive quality that forces people to regularly check their newsfeeds like they check their e-mails.
Companies can't-and shouldn't-force restrictions on social media in the workplace, especially now that the National Labor Relations Board is classifying social networks as a form of protected speech. Rather, companies should focus their efforts on instituting and clearly communicating policies and guidelines on acceptable use. Embracing the technology will go much further in ensuring employees won't abuse the privilege, and may even help cut down on the 1.18 hours per day spent on status updates.