Half of U.S. Employers Block Social Media, Meaning Half of US Employers are Stupid

by Dave Saunders

According to a new Report from Robert Half Technology 54% of US companies block employees access to social media websites. Over 1,400 CIO’s (chief information officers) were polled in the survey, first reported first by mashable.com a few days ago.

Although the report didn’t speak to the reasons why, we can only assume a couple. CIOs are are naturally nervous bunch, afraid that social networking unleashes viruses at work. The other reason probably comes down from the uninformed CEO, fearing a loss of productivity if they let employees converse on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of this blog post over 1,000 people had already commented on the story, most bashing the decisions of this uninformed segment of the technorati. The terms “short sighted” and “boneheaded” came up alot in the comments section.

CIO’s should know better. Viruses, worms and other forms of malicious code are spread through email, and rarely, if ever, social networking sites. But no one wants to ban email at work….except me. And as for the “productivity” issue, the cause stems from social media’s BIG image problem. People “play around” on Facebook and Twitter, they think. No one plays around on the phone, or on email, now do they?

Sooner or later (and hopefully sooner) companies will stop vilifying social media and realize it can become a valuable work tool, communication platform and ultimately, with the help of projects like Google Wave, the preferred work collaboration platform.

The big brains at IBM started encouraging participation in social networking and blogging back in 2005, and even put in guidelines for work usage in their wiki. (IBM SM GUidelines here). With open source, they opened up, started talking with each other and the ideas stared flowing….to much ballyhooed success. IBM is doing great, with a stock price 50% higher than a year ago and up nearly double in 4 years, despite the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Back in 1998, companies (like my previous employer the LA Times) feared the web, and didn’t allow employees Internet access at work. Can you imagine not having web access at work? I am sure that when telephones came along more than a century ago, some knucklehead company owners said “No, we’re not getting telephones. People will probably try to talk on them all day long.”

There are 1.6 Billion people now on the world wide web. That number is expected to double by 2012, and most of these web newbies will get their access on their cell phones. What will these short-sighted companies start doing then? Perhaps, they’ll confiscate your phone on the way into the office. It’s really simple. If you don’t let people engage on social media websites from their desktops, they’ll be spending a whole lot of of unproductive time in the bathroom, or break room or somewhere else on their PHONES, accessing their FB accounts or texting their updates directly to twitter.

i’m tweeting from the supply closet because my stupid boss doesn’t allow us to use Twitter at work” — posted 6 minutes ago from Twitterberry

You can’t stop progress and you can’t stop people from communicating.