Recently, I was the part of a debate about whether social media is a boon or a bane for today’s workplace. I know this discussion goes around and around, and normally stops with social media being accused for workplace distractions and low employee productivity. But, I believe that social media is getting a bad rap. In fact, a study has proven that social media savvy employees are more efficient at their work, specifically work-related social situations. Efficiency is never a bad thing.
Will the social media savvy employees lead the charge that makes social media as universally present in the workplace as it is in our personal lives? Will our productivity and business operations soon be tied to social media? Is the current silo about to break away? Today, our solutions still force employees to engage in work activities on one platform and social activities on another. Yet, more and more businesses are trying to push toward creating more social employees, and utilizing employee advocacy and social business programs. Before that integration can take place, however, social will need to become as much a part of our work as email and Office. There may be some limitations in adoption, but let’s explore the future of work and how technology and social are going to blend into one seamless tool for communication and employee productivity.
Social technology ups the level of communication. The need for communication is growing even stronger with the workplace becoming broader and more dispersed. We work differently than we did just a decade ago, with more opportunities for flex time and remote working. With the changing face of work, it is obvious that the level of communication required is changing drastically, as well.
Therefore more organizations are exploring social media to bridge the communication gap between their employees. According to the latest study by Dell about evolving workplace trends, 25% of respondents believe technology brings people together. How so? Some social media activities rocking the workplace are Internet forums, weblogs, blogs, wikis, podcasts, photos, video, rating and social bookmarking, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowd sourcing, and more.
Social aids collaboration. Using technology for communicating, storing, and managing shared data for distributed work is nothing new. What is new is the ability to carry out these functions through hand-held devices like smartphones and tablets that have 24/7 internet connectivity. In fact, that internet connectivity has quite a lot to do with the quality of collaboration within your organization. For instance, higher internet speed and capabilities will result in better video and audio quality during video conferencing sessions, even on consumer-grade video services such as Skype and Hangouts.
While your important and more serious video needs can and should be met with enterprise-grade solutions, you can definitely use social communication platforms for internal communication.
Social supports BYOD. Today, most of the social media workplace collaboration is happening on employees’ personal devices, rather than on their office computers. According to the latest stats revealed by Dell and Intel, more than half of employees worldwide currently use personal devices for work purposes or plan to do so in the future, while 54% of companies globally are already allowing BYOD.
Workplace adoption of social media. If you really wish to reap the benefits of social media technology, you must avoid the most common misstep – treating social media as a special guest rather than making it a part of your organization. Integrating social media with your normal workplace routine should be the goal. One of the best examples of this integration that I can think of is how Salesforce.com’s Chatter, which lives within the CRM platform, gives employees a more meaningful connection to the people they work with on both professional as well as personal levels. Employees can use this platform to make new connections, track friends and co-workers, and get in touch with colleagues they have previously worked.
As long as people look for the human touch in their professional lives, tech advancements are less likely to eliminate the need for humans in the workplace. Perhaps, social media could gratify the need for human touch by creating a unique blend of technology and social elements satisfying that social craving, while at the same time pushing our productivity to new heights.
This post was written as part of the Dell Content Partners program, which provides news and analysis on technology, business and gadget-geek culture. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
Photo: Creative Commons