Social Media in the Workplace: Time Waster or Productivity Boost?

Tweeting.  Skyping.  Chatting.  With the development of social media tools, the landscape of the workplace is changing.  But at what cost?  Do social media tools—like Twitter and Skype—help or harm the workplace? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most businesses come down on the harm side of the equation.  Accordingly, many companies are reluctant to allow their employees to freely use social media during work hours.  But what if those tools increase productivity?  The results of a recent survey suggest that social media can be a boon to the workplace.

Ipsos and Microsoft surveyed almost 10,000 information workers across 30+ countries and the results were startling.  As many as 46% of respondents said that their productivity increased greatly or somewhat due to social media tools.  And 40% believe that social tools have resulted in more collaboration at their workplace.[1]

And amazingly, according to a recent report, knowledge workers spend a whopping 15%-35% of a typical day just searching for the right information.  To reduce this problem, Unisys launched a site that allows employees to locate experts within the organization by creating profiles and hashtags.  This enables employees to search out others with a specific skillset or who are looking to collaborate on specific topics.[2]

While there are disadvantages to social media—namely, productivity and security concerns—one obvious benefit is that it eases employee collaboration.  So, before ruling it out unilaterally at your organization, it may be worth it to do some homework and consider whether social media tools will enhance productivity. 

It just may be that social media will help your workplace, rather than harm it.

Wanna Outperform Your Competitors? Adaptability is KEY.

In a 2012 global study IBM did of 1700+ CEOs [1], not surprisingly, significant differences were noted between industry leaders and their competitors.  Industry leaders—termed outperformers—were identified as those who surpassed their competitors in terms of revenue growth and profitability. 

The main takeaway from the study was that the ability to adapt—to manage change and to respond quickly to market fluctuations—was a key factor in their organizational successes.

Some key features of outperformers:

  • They Excel at Managing Change
    According to the study, 73% of outperformers do an excellent job managing change compared to their underperforming peers.  Change is a given in today’s global marketplace.  Take the music business, for example.  The industry has experienced rapid improvements in technology in the last few decades, going from 8-tracks to albums to cassettes to CDs to MP3s.  Being responsive to advances in technology—or any economic influence—is critical to success.
  • They Translate Insights into Action Better than Their Peers
    While being able to see which way the industry is headed is critical, it does no good if an organization is mired in inefficiencies, bureaucracy, and ‘analysis paralysis.’  It’s not enough to be an expert on the global marketplace, companies also need to be responsive and able to quickly adapt to industry trends.  A whopping 84% of outperformers possess this quality as compared to underperformers.
  • They’re Moving Into Different Industries
    Again, the focus is on change and adaptability.  Many outperforming companies (48%) are moving into other industries to take advantage of gaps in the marketplace. 

To be successful, the main thing that can be taken from this study is that adaptability is a key component found in highly profitable organizations.  In the competitive global marketplace, companies that will excel are those that value change and responsiveness—ones where brainstorming and open door policies are welcome.  Where bureaucracy and stagnancy is left to competitors…  

Going Green Makes Cents

Over the last two decades, there has been a surge in concern for the environment that crosses all demographics[1]. But, it’s not just consumers who are displaying greater eco-awareness.  More and more, businesses are realizing that going green has a positive impact on their bottom line.  

For instance, take a look at some financial incentives to going green:

  • Legal/Tax Benefits
    The IRS offers tax benefits to companies that make an effort to go green.  For instance, businesses that use hybrids as company cars can take an alternative motor vehicle credit on their federal taxes.  Similarly, companies that use alternative energy sources (solar power, wind power) can take a credit of up to 30%.  Additionally, many states offer incentives of their own to companies that reduce emissions[2].
  • Waste Reduction
    From packaging products in smaller boxes to turning office lights out over the weekend, there are a number of ways that companies can focus on reducing waste that cut expenditures over the long-term.  Case in point:  Kraft redesigned its salad dressing bottles, reducing packaging weight by almost 19%.  This allowed the company to save 1360 tons of plastic annually[3].  On a smaller scale, one way companies can save money is by printing less—paper makes up 35% of a typical companies’ total waste[4].  Large corporations and small businesses alike can find that by analyzing energy/waste expenditures, there is room for improvement regardless of organizational size.
  • Consumer Perception
    Being an environmentally conscious company can attract consumers.  According to Scott Siff, executive vice president of consulting firm, Penn Schoen Berland, “In the United States, 75% of consumers say that it is somewhat or very important to them that the brands they buy come from green companies…”[5]  Consider the impact on your business reputation by going green.  Starbucks--known for its commitment to reducing its impact on the environment—has generated much positive publicity for its recycling, waste reduction, and water conservation efforts.

Bottom line?  Although going green may initially seem cost prohibitive, it can have a positive impact on revenue when you consider the tax credits, the savings associated with waste reduction, and the additional customers you may attract as a result of your green initiative.