Social media makes us more productive

productivity gainWhen I first blogged about the issue of whether social media should be banned at work it was still a mildly contentious issue.  There were still concerns over the ROI benefits of engaging with customers on social media, not to mention concerns by managers that employees were using social networks to do anything but their job.

Even then though, research had shown that using social media provided a productivity boost.  It should be noted that this wasn’t the productive social media usage that is typified by the social business movement, but rather the time wasting kind feared by most managers.  The research showed that goofing around on social networks now and then provided the brain a break, thus making employees more productive when they returned to the tasks at hand.

If further evidence was required however, Warwick Business School have attempted to provide it.  Some new research, conducted by Joe Nandhakumar, reveals the productivity gains provided by social media usage.  It found that the employees that regularly use social channels are in fact amongst the most productive employees.

The research studied a large telecoms company, over a two year period.  The company had large presences on external social networks, and also was a heavy user of internal social tools such as Skype and their SAP powered enterprise software.  They found that the social-enabled employees were able to accomplish more sales and customer related tasks than their non-enabled peers.  What’s more, they could also do this more quickly.

Nandhakumar suggests that this productivity boost is evidence of his theory of virtual co-presence, or in other words, the ability to collaborate with others over short, productive sessions to solve problems.

“Ubiquitous digital connectivity should be seen not as an unwelcome interruption but as part of the changing nature of knowledge work itself that needs to become part of normal, everyday practices of contemporary organizations,” Nandhakumar says.

It seems that companies are rapidly running out of excuses for not becoming social.



6 thoughts on “Social media makes us more productive

  1. Hmm, interesting finding. I wonder if it's simply that the kind of companies that allow social media access are more enlightened, and this brings out the best in people.

  2. Is this a chicken and egg thing? Is it the social media that makes people more productive, or that people who use social media are more productive types anyway?

  3. Great post, Adi and I was about to comment but Ronnie beat me to the punch: I also wonder if people who use social media are not more productive types anyway, efficient multi-taskers and curious by nature. Companies who don't embrace social, in my mind, tend to have an older-school mentality, where "information is power" is still a truthful mantra and transparency, not necessarily a virtue.
    Interesting stuff, nevertheless.

    • Yes it's certainly a possibility and perhaps one for the researchers to explore at a later date. Either way though it should hopefully go yet further to dispelling the myth that social media is bad for productivity.

  4. Great idea for a post, Adi. I think that social media while entertaining and good for the brain has multiple uses in an org. Employees can use it for recreational purposes but more importantly the company must use social media as a tool for collaboration, customer service, technical support and PR purposes. In other words you are a dinosaur if you don't use social media! It's use is becoming endemic in any work environment.

    • It's nice that it's reached that kind of stage where businesses can't really do without it isn't it? Wasn't that long ago that it was treated very cynically by many managers.

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