Facebook good for business, opines think-tank

In Thursday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches the think-tank Demos tell us to chill out -- and unblock Facebook from our Web filters. Not to mention how Belgian charities make money...

Aunty Beeb reports:

Demos logo
Companies should not dismiss staff who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo at work as merely time-wasters ... Attempts to control employees' use of such software could damage firms in the long run by limiting the way staff communicate ... Social networking can encourage employees to build relationships with colleagues across a firm.

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Using technology to build closer links with ex-employees and potential customers could also boost productivity, innovation and create a more democratic working environment.

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However, businesses are warned to be strict with those who abuse access ... there should be no hesitation in telling employees who spent "unreasonable" amounts of time using technology for non-work related activity that their behaviour must change.
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Lexton Snol advises:

Rather than seeing their staffers wasting time messaging, poking and sending virtual cocktails to their mates across the room via Facebook, bosses should encourage social networking among employees.

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[Demos] believes that social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo at work actually encourages staff to build relationships with colleagues.

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Attempting to control employee use of social networking software could damage firms in the long run by limiting the way workers communicate. While work-specific services, such as LinkedIn, are used for business matters, Facebook, Bebo and MySpace still have a place.
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Neil Armstrong got there first: [You're fired -Ed.]

The never-ending debate about whether Facebook is good or evil grinds slowly on ... [We] have swung the pendulum back towards social networking being ‘a good thing’ for businesses.

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As an interesting coincidence this comes out at the same time that LinkedIn and Huddle announce a link-up ... We use LinkedIn for recruitment and business development. Pretty much all of our staff use Facebook on a daily basis too. We’ve also played around with Huddle before as it has some interesting similarities to our own Workplace system.
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Phil Bradley nods sagely:

No surprise for those of us who actually use Facebook professionally.

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This report follows on from another recent one coming out of Cambridge University, as researchers discovered Facebook gave people more choice on how they conduct relationships and was "a way of storing biography and enhancing social memory".
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And Graham Jones slaps his forehead:

Oh dear ... This is a classic example of a big company being "taken over" by the hype surrounding a supposedly new technology. Let's get this right - social networking has been around since humans first started walking on the face of the planet.

All that the likes of Facebook do is enable us to carry on doing that in new and exciting ways. Too many people are falling into the trap of thinking that social networking online is something new or different; it isn't. It's what we've always done and that's why it is so successful.
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Steve Earl agrees, with a British colorful metaphor:

This Facebook at work flapping is nothing new - it used to be that firms feared email would lead to staff taking the p*ss by spending all day on email. These days I feel like I'm slipping if I spend any time away from email.

With every new invention that helps people communicate come the rumblings about workplace productivity. Just like the humble phone, the issue is whether it's for business or personal use, and the lines blur there anyway.
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But Terrence O'Brien switches tack:

[The] logic seems pretty solid, or would if it wasn't for the fact that we have a hard time believing employees won't spend half their time distracted by weepy emo-girls and leaving comments for friends like "OMG! you were so drunk last night!"
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And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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