Study: Facebook, Twitter use at work costs big bucks

Social networking use in the office costs U.K. businesses about $2.25 billion a year

A U.K. firm today released a study showing that people who use Facebook, Twitter and other social networks while at work extract a heavy cost on their employers.

Employees who use Twitter and other social networks in the office are costing U.K. businesses about 1.38 billion pounds, or more than $2.25 billion a year, according to London-based Morse PLC, an IT services and technology company. Morse surveyed 1,460 office workers and found that 57% browse social networking sites for personal use while in the office.

Those workers use social networks an average of 40 minutes a day at work, which adds up to a lost week each year, the survey found.

"The popularity of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook has grown considerably over the last couple of years," said Philip Wicks, a consultant at Morse, in a statement.

"However with it has come the temptation to visit such sites during office hours [where] the use of these sites is clearly becoming a productivity black hole. It is clear that businesses look to formulate and enforce sensible usage policies."

Morse, which commissioned research firm TNS Group to do the study, isn't alone in its findings.

In July, Nucleus Research, an IT research company in Boston, released a study showing that companies where users are free to access Facebook in the workplace lose an average of 1.5% in total employee productivity. The survey also showed that 77% of workers who have a personal Facebook account use it during work hours.

Earlier this month, a study commissioned by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm, showed that companies are starting to take on social networkers in their offices. This study found that 54% of U.S. companies had banned office use of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace while on the job.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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