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Trust staff with Facebook, says expert

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An expert is urging bosses to allow staff to spend 5% of their time experimenting with web networking tools, including Facebook, whilst at work.

Scott Gavin, of Applied Trends, believes Web 2.0 technologies will never reach their true potential or deliver ROI for organisations unless staff are trusted to make the most of collaborative tools in ways that make sense to them.

“When it comes to implementing Web 2.0 in a business environment, IT departments need to facilitate, then get out of the way,” he said. “Business leaders need to back their people to spend time experimenting with wikis, blogs, tagging and social networks.”

According to Gavin, 5% is not an arbitrary number, and it provides a specific period of time each week when employees and teams are given validation to experiment.

Speaking to HRZone.co.uk, Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: “There can be huge benefits to employers encouraging better IT skills for their staff, including the use of Web 2.0 tools to encourage networking and innovation in the organisation.

“But with all the current hype around social networking services at work, it’s hardly surprising that many managers may see the threat before they see the opportunity.”

Barber added that employers needed to trust their staff to use these technologies responsibly: “The best way to do this is to be as open and clear as possible. A good employer will negotiate fair web usage and conduct policies with their unions or staff forums, and publicise them well. Letting everyone know what’s expected of them before you start helps to avoid nasty surprises for staff as well as for the employer.”

One Response

  1. “Threat before opportunity”
    Whilst I can understand the intent behind this article, sadly I don’t think many people are ready for such a mature view on Facebook and other Web 2.0 sites.

    I’ll cite Facebook as an example, as it’s used in the article. I’m on it, and in my experience, the vast majority of users still treat it as a gossip column / plaything rather than as a networking tool.

    I regularly spend time deleting all of the latest videos and invites to add the latest ‘application’ to my profile, before being able to catch up with my friends.

    Sites like HRZone, TrainingZone and LinkedIn on the other hand, do offer a means to share ideas and build professional networks – so if there is an appetite to allow access to networking sites at work, I believe the solution would be to allow selective access to sites like these for people, if that access is in the interests of their job or the achievement of their objectives.

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