Social Enterprise

Social media not the biggest distraction at work

A new survey reveals the biggest time wasters for workers. The results may surprise some employers
Because of the seemingly worldwide addiction to social media, you might think that Facebook and Twitter would be the biggest time-wasters at work. Not so, according to a new survey from TrackVi. Take a look:

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Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

32 comments
RJNelson
RJNelson

It would be interesting to see some actual metrics from corporate web reporting tools. Even if users attempt to be honest about their usage, I doubt that they are correct in their reporting. Watercooler chats may be a time "taker", but I'm hard pressed to say it is a time "waster". Anecdotal evidence suggests that if it weren't for a watercooler chat, we might not have GPS at our disposal. Social Media can have big value to an organization, Imagine being able to leverage knowledge from across your corporate landscape. As IT Professionals, we tend to be a bit arrogant and dismissive of our "mere mortal" users; the truth is, sometimes they know stuff that can help us as well as the user population at large.

bdr
bdr

I would like to reinforce mogoredmax a bit more. I am not allow to tell whom, but actually some major top 500 company (at least 2 we work with directly) have informed me in meeting that they are not allow to exchange e-mail with each other anymore, except to confirm and exchange project related information. All inter company information need to be first exchange by voice (phone), direct contact etc... Why!! well very simple, they notice that the social network so important in there world wide acting company was "dying" since everybody was just e-mail around (80% useless e-mail on my account if you ask me, as I don't really care what should be served in a conference room with our meeting, we have staff for that!!!!) Instant messaging (Skype and co are always off-line with me) etc... there no interaction between real people anymore and this vastly affect productivity and innovation in company. Yes 50% or more of the talking is not productive, but 80% of our solution solving is resulting by direct conversation (yes we solve 80% of our problem by just talking to each other!!! surprise, surprise) I am the COO and COD of our group and solve most of our business with a real hand shake or a good conversation not by sending e-mail back and fort. Yes I hate facebook, but not for the product but because if commit us to become "nerds" and kill our social competence (yes I know it's a paradox since FB is a social network) by reducing our contact to simple post and message without most of what make us different to a PC, our human emotion (business is about contact and social contact) So after so many words, I will not take a short coffee brake and talk to my colleague next door and do some powwow, just to talk about the weather (nice weather in Germany at the moment) and maybe we will solve some problem "just talking" around

Suresh Mukhi
Suresh Mukhi

I guess people do not make or receive personal calls anymore. That was so 20th century.

pruthvi.kathavi
pruthvi.kathavi

It’s good as long as it does not distract you from your work. Command and Control is not the answer. But tracking and correcting is, only when it is excessive. It’s not the easiest thing to keep track of time while you are busy tweeting/on facebook. Tools like ProHance provide personal analytics and alerts ensuring you do not exceed your own time limit on distracting sites.Allows companies to keep tab without intruding into your privacy. Its best of both worlds.

jonathan_alvarez
jonathan_alvarez

As I was reading this article there was an idea coming from the dark side of it, the kind of ideas that generate policies or managers suggestion, if you understand me, “Eliminate the water cooler talk would improve productivity” Who in the world consider drinking water and have a short chat while doing it is a waste of time ? , drink water DO improve health, moreover is your choose to go , refill your personal cooler and get back to work or have a chat in the way. Another aspect is as easy put your mind in different area can help to bring new ideas, so in my opinion , is not waste of time. OF course, I am not talknign about a 30, 45, 60 min of chat. That is a meeting ;)

wheres_my_stuff
wheres_my_stuff

I'd like to know - regarding the question of social media usage at work - if the survey was taken only among companies that allow social media at work. It is known that most companies do not allow them, leaving the percentage of companies that alow them very low. Therefore if 5% of people use them at work, and only 5% of companies (so to speak) allow them, that would mean 100% of people use them at work when allowed to. Clarification of the methodology would help us appreciate the results - was the survey conducted only in a universe of companies where access to social media is already restricted, or was it conducted only with companies that allow social media websites?

ron_r_a
ron_r_a

Do they still have water coolers? Or are these virtual water coolers on Facebook? Ummm... yeah.... I'm gonna need you to come in on Sunday.

NicCrockett
NicCrockett

Did anyone else take away from this that 5% of workers are telling the truth while x% are lying? I mean really, do you actually think they are going to admit to their addiction to social media?

kelleyjl
kelleyjl

If your on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks while at work and that includes personal Email you are not working, you are wasting Company time.

NoisePollution
NoisePollution

In my position I have to make a few site visits (different offices and different buildings) most days, and the side tracked conversations do waste a lot of my time. Because I don't see some of these people frequently they tend to want to play conversation catch-up. I sometimes wonder if they have as many conversations throughout the day with other people. It's not the 10 or 15 minutes wasted with one person, it is the 8 or 9 different people that sidetrack me along my way. But I can only attest to my experience in this arena. As for the network side of the distractions, this I can speak too from a more knowledgeable point of reference. The biggest distraction I see is from email. Not just the email itself, but its content. You can see when an interesting email has circulated from the impact on the network. First there is a spike in third party Webmail activity (as well as our internal email), which is usually followed by a spike in hits on a specific site (YouTube is a big one). Sometimes these circulations have been so bad in some of our remote sites that our network has taken a significant hit. Although it circulates fairly quickly and subsides, it still impacts everyone on the network for 30 or 40 minutes (whether they are included in the circulation or not). So I guess in a way this is a form of social networking, as it is rarely a work related email that spawns this activity. We have since had to block non-work related webmail sites (whether the users know it or not, this probably annoys me more than it does them).

spineres
spineres

Since I am a Mac user I don't waste the 11% of my day on Microsoft glitches so I can take more naps, martini lunches, early afternoons and I will still get just as much done as the Windows guys! Thanks for the good news.

pgit
pgit

Did TrackVi factor for the probability that people might under-report "social media" as a time waster in order to preserve their ability to play with facebook, tweet etc? If someone knows they're wasting a lot of time with facebook, but they love doing so, it's unlikely they'd finger facebook as the biggest waste of their time, I would think.

mogoredmax
mogoredmax

I believe it was the founder of W.L. Gore who realized that most important decision making and information gathering was carried out around the water cooler or at other informal meeting places. The creators of this survey seem to be pandering to the whims of the 'command and control' brigade who purport to be good managers. I'm now off for a coffee and a bit of chat with my fellow 'time wasters'.

Owen Glendower
Owen Glendower

"Yes 50% or more of the talking is not productive, but 80% of our solution solving is resulting by direct conversation (yes we solve 80% of our problem by just talking to each other!!! surprise, surprise)" Management guru Tom Peters once visited a successful and growing company which employed several hundred people, but which had no job descriptions on file. He expressed his amazement to the CEO, who replied, "We have a very unusual organizational structure here. PEOPLE TALK TO EACH OTHER."

hartiq
hartiq

"Water-coolers" were installed where I worked, as were vending machines that supplied almost-liquids in a variety of shades of brown-ish. The building used "grey" water, recycled rainwater and such from the seagull-frequented rooves and such, for flushing and I suspected the vending machines were supplied *after* the flushing - possibly after extracting all of the di-hydrogen monoxide from the concoctions. People did chat around the various sources of sludges, that was a far better choice than attempting to drink any of them. I was unreliably informed that the "water" coolers supplied tepid as well as cooler quasi-fluids, though I have no idea whether that wasted more or less time than any other temperature of alleged potable.

hartiq
hartiq

I *always* answer surveys fully and truthfully. Indeed, I was astonished to read your implication that others may not. Why, if we were to not answer fully and truthfully that might invalidate some of the results! That would be ever so unscientific and disastrous to future social historians. Egads, it would be like lying on your profile in a dating service! I am *SHOCKED*, *SHOCKED* I tell you, to think that such might be going on! Just to clarify, I *never* wasted time at work with Face/twit. And I hated the company coffee.

hartiq
hartiq

Where I used to work there were people paid to Twit/face. They did other things, too, but twitting was considered a customer-facing activity. Strangely, the company put out information the employees needed to know on twit/face but banned most of us from accessing them. I think we were supposed to twit/face on our home machines after work to catch up. I now some of us did. I never did. I relied on time-wasting conversations with the twittering team to find out anything I needed to know. That and managers berating me for not being up-to-date, as they would usually eventually tell me what I was supposed to know at some point in the harangue. I never did manage to get a personal face/twit feed either on the job or at home. Not having friends always made that seem a little wasteful.

Owen Glendower
Owen Glendower

An acquaintance of mine is an assistant buyer with a national department-store chain. Her first day of work, she was told, "If you get personal email at work, you WILL be fired."

nyssssa
nyssssa

And when users say, "This wouldn't happen on a Mac," I say, "You're right; Macs won't run our software."

kcskrobela
kcskrobela

At the risk of seeming like a huge Pollyanna... "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." Antoine de St. Exupery, The Little Prince. Whether or not time is "wasted" may well be impossible to measure. Time "spent" is not necessarily the same as time wasted.

Fairbs
Fairbs

I don't think they are talking about non-focused work talk such as 'hey, Joe what have you been working on?'. I think they are more talking about the 'hey, Frank did you watch the big game last night?' or 'How about that Suzy in accounting?' types of conversations. When it comes down to it, does it really matter what categories of time wasting people partake in while at work? I know I waste little work time on Facebook because I don't have an account (not to say I don't waste work time in general). Would it be useful to say, 'We know you're going to waste time at work, but we will be monitoring you to make sure it doesn't go over an hour per day.'?

mdwalls
mdwalls

and can swear to the positive benefits of casual interaction among colleagues at work. We are moving towards consolidating more staff in physical offices just to take advantage of increased interaction and the ability to bring junior staff along faster (and more safely) through ongoing opportunities for informal interaction.

cmwade1977
cmwade1977

Macs can run all Windows (providing you installed Windows) and Mac software just fine. And when Windows is used with Parallels, if there is ever a problem in Windows it's a simple 1-2 minutes to restore your system to a known working snapshot. So, I fail to see why you can't run your software on a Mac.

rustys
rustys

Having worked in several different industries I can definitely say that many a breakthrough has happened around the water-cooler or in the lunch room. In a less formal situation juniors are more willing to throw up an idea and it has been noted in by several well known entrepreneurs that senior people tend to think more outside the box in a less formal situation.

andrew232006
andrew232006

I fail to see any benefit if you're running in a windows VM all the time. You get all the problems of windows and you have to maintain a mac OS on top of that. Even if the mac file system is better, I doubt the windows VM will be reading faster from it. Doesn't it use an NTFS virtual drive? I'd be more inclined to believe you take a performance hit from running in a VM. And I suspect you'll find a much faster PC for the same price as a mac.

hartiq
hartiq

I have been told that Windows stuff runs faster under MacOS than it does on equivalently specified Windows boxes. Whether that was an aberration of WinXP or whether it was never true, I don't really know but the idea that it is true might justify Windows on Mac to some. It might be true if the Mac file system is better organised, faster to access, more efficient than NTFS or the FATs. Even absent that, running Winstuff under Mac means you get any benefits the MacOS and Apple hardware have (if there are any) as well as the familiarity of Windows. Running MacOS under Windows is not as easy, if it is possible at all, so Win on Mac is the only way to benefit from both. If you can afford a good Mac, and a Windows license fee, it sort of makes sense. Sometimes.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What's the advantage of running Windows apps on a Mac? If all you're after is the ability to restore the system, you could run then in a virtual machine on a Windows box. Why bother?

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