Study: 54% of companies ban Facebook, Twitter at work

Some allow limited use of social networks on the job, but most now bar them outright

Planning on firing off a short missive on Twitter or posting an update to your friends on Facebook from the office?

Better check your employer's rules first.

According to a study commissioned by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm, 54% of U.S. companies say that they have banned workers from using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace while on the job. The study, released today, also found that 19% of companies allow social networking use only for business purposes, while 16% allow limited personal use.

Only 10% of the 1,400 CIOs interviewed said that their companies allow employees full access to social networks during work hours.

"Using social networking sites may divert employees' attention away from more pressing priorities, so it's understandable that some companies limit access," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology and a Computerworld columnist, in a statement. "For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes."

A study released last summer concluded that social networking use could hurt the bottom line.

Nucleus Research, an IT research firm, reported in July that employee productivity drops 1.5% at companies that allow full access to Facebook in the workplace. That survey of 237 corporate employees also showed that 77% of workers who have a Facebook account use it during work hours.

Nucleus said that the survey found that "some" employees use the social networking site for as much as two hours a day at work. It did not say how many workers fit into that category, but it did note that one in 33 workers surveyed said that they use Facebook only while at work. And of those using Facebook at work, 87% said they had no clear business reason for accessing the network.

And in August, the U.S. Marine Corps reaffirmed its ban on the use of social networks by its soldiers.

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