Is social media capable of distracting work?

As mobile devices become more pervasive and prevalent in workplaces worldwide, companies are beginning to make certain adjustments in the way IT infrastructure is configured to manage information security and integrity. Online firewalls can be put up to do this and keep employee-owned mobile devices from accidentally or illegally sharing sensitive company information. However, there is yet another aspect companies must also pay proper attention: social media use in the workplace.


As an off-hours leisure alternative, social media provides ample relaxation and stress relief. The interactive entertainment that social media sites like Facebook or Twitter and the like provide makes this possible. It seems the only form of online entertainment capable of matching this are mobile apps for gaming like, Angry Bird, for example. Such forms of entertainment can be brought over to the workplace virtually via mobile devices. They become readily accessible during work hours in the process.  How secure then can companies be with regards to employees carrying on with work without being distracted by social media or non-business related mobile apps?

Anti-social software

Companies address the workplace social media use issue merely by activating anti-social media software in their systems. Software such as these automatically bar employees from accessing social media sites during specific work hours. The company’s IT staff specify what social media sites can’t be accessed within the system. Mobile devices working within the company’s system and wifi coverage area automatically get barred from social media access owing to the anti-social media software at work in the system.

The software for such although activated can, however, be overridden by employees simply by rebooting their computers. Doing so, however, exposes any employee to detection and potential embarrassment. So much so that if you are an employee who thinks highly of yourself as an efficient professional, would you be that willing to reboot your PC just so you may do some Facebook for a few minutes? Highly unlikely.


Beyond the limits

The company’s anti-social media software’s capability is limited to within the physical premises of the workplace. Once mobile employees go out and do their work outside of its confines, and into any available wifi coverage within its immediate environs, the premise changes. Social media becomes accessible again. Business productivity can thus be affected by the distraction it poses to its users. Mobile employees can be susceptible to social media distraction under the following circumstances:

  • Long waits and lulls. Errands that take long to accomplish and those which involve long periods of time spent idling away for word to get around or transactions to conclude are potential social media opportunities. Boredom often drives people to find ways to amuse themselves and social media and game apps are convenient diversions.
  • Lengthy travel times. Land travel can take so much time and when mobile workers aren’t at the wheel and traveling as passengers, the urge to access mobile apps for commuter shopping purposes or social media for tweets and shout outs can be hard to resist. Air travel poses much the same since the potential for boredom and the urge to fight boredom with something as engaging as social media can be truly irresistible.
  • Boring meetings. Meetings held not within office premises where wifi isn’t controlled offer opportunities for social media and game apps distraction especially when such meetings become uneventful.
  • Too much multitasking. Some areas in the operations necessitate social media monitoring like marketing efforts and viral videos. Although this may be considered part of the tasks, the tendency to meander longer than necessary can be something hard to control. Multitasking between paperwork and social media monitoring creates a blur and can distract the worker assigned to it tremendously.

Author’s Bio: Henry Conrad is a 29-year-old game developer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aside from gaming and being a tech junky, he also dabbles in creative writing, which allows him to create great storylines and backgrounds for his characters. Follow me on Twitter and join me in Google +

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