Facebook social networkingThis Wednesday morning I will be interviewed on eTV Morning Edition at 6h30am likely just after the news bulletin about the impact of social networking website Facebook on business. The views I am going to express is something that needs to be taken very seriously by companies, especially small business. You see small businesses and entrepreneurs often do not have the tools like larger corporates to block access in the same way. In fact in many cases they may not even realise how much time is being wasted on Facebook or sending/forwarding and reading joke emails. This must be the curse of the knowledge worker i.e. that you can pretend to work whenever you are clicking around on your PC.

There has been several articles and comments in the South African blogosphere about the impact of Facebook. Vinny Lingham highlights how stupid outright blocking of Facebook is and Mike Stopforth gives 5 reasons why you should let your employees use it. Both refer to this News24 article about South African companies blocking Facebook.

As an Internet evangelist I will always support more Internet access. So I agree fundamentally with Vinny that companies should address it on a individual basis. So I would recommend companies write Facebook and social networking access into the Internet Usage policy. Once they have informed employees that their access is being monitored the next step should be compulsory online netiquette training to increase workplace productivity and reduce technology stress.

You see there is a problem with multitasking as reported by CNN back in 2001. And if your block the access outright people will find a way around it. Secondly you won’t be able to monitor or track their activities. Remember nobody is teaching employees basic online etiquette these days. Way back in the early days of the Web there were many people who supervised things on their own accord like your friendly neighbourhood online bodyguard. Today companies are making a lot of assumptions about people’s online behaviour, their levels of self-discipline and their ability to take the initiative in improving their productivity. So for a better understanding of the Attention Age go here.