Are social networking sites decreasing productivity at work?

What are major social networking sites on internet? What are advantages and disavantages of using social networking sites? What are positive and negative effects of using social networking sites in Pakistan? How to use social networking sites safely at workplace?

What are social networking sites?
Social networking sites provide a platform to interact with people over internet. Such sites require the users to create their own profile or a page to connect with a large community of relatives, friends, and colleagues. You may share photos, videos, games and documents etc to attract people towards your profile, strengthen your connections and enhancing your social network.


What are major social networking sites on internet?
Although there are various platforms for social networking but mostly the people are inclined towards these four major sites.

  • Facebook: It was introduced in February 2004 and, undoubtedly, attracts a lot of people and carries a large traffic throughout the world. The members of Facebook are over 200 million now and are increasing rapidly day by day. 
  • LinkedIn: It came into scene in May, 2003. It focuses on interactions among people of a certain professional circle. It helps building career-oriented relationships and contacts. People share their education, skills, experiences and a lot of other stuff to motivate other people and to spread awareness about technological advancements and achievements of other people. 
  • MySpace: It was started around the same time as Linkedin. It is more oriented towards music and brands of various kinds. It also focuses on connecting groups instead of individuals only. 
  • Twitter: It is the newest among the four major social networking sites. People join twitter to keep in touch with their favorite celebrities and actors.


What are advantages of using social networking sites?
Following advantages could be associated with the use of social networking sites.

  • The companies can advertise their products for free as social networking sites provide free and easy access to everyone.
  • Social networking sites can be used to expand the circle of contacts in a business and to improve communication with clients.
  • Before starting any trade or business in a place, the introduction of company can be provided via social networking sites. The response from people in that area will indicate the probability of flourishing business there.
  • Social networking sites are an excellent but not necessarily reliable source of information about various daily occurrences, as contacts in your circle share images, videos and other stuff on current affairs.
  • Within an organization, social networking sites can provide means of fast communication among employees. An urgent meeting can be held using group chat features of social networking sites. Even in formal meetings, teleconferencing features can be (and are regularly) used by some people if they are not physically present there.
  • Social networking sites can be used to provide information about useful marketing strategies and to make decisions regarding important issues.
  • Students can contact professionals of a specific field for internship and job opportunities. 

What are disadvantages of using social networking sites?
The careless use of social networking sites can have adverse effects at workplace. Some negative aspects of using social networking sites are as follows.

  • Sharing personal information can be risky and people may exploit your information to conspire against you.
  • Data sharing of organizations that is copyright protected, may lead to violation of copyright rules and regulations.
  • Viruses can easily infect the network in a defense related organization and may lead to faulty control of sensitive devices. In Pakistan, the use of internet is disabled and strictly prohibited in defense related organizations to avoid sharing of important data and malfunctioning of the systems in that organization.
  • People waste a lot of time at their workplace using social networking websites. It is a usual practice to be logged on these sites round the clock and to work at the same time. It is natural to get distracted from assigned task as soon as your friend pokes you on social networks. Using social networks even for an hour reduces overall efficiency of organization if every worker has the same practice. 
  • In process control industries, it is very important to be careful while controlling parameters of a process. Negligence for a slight moment, may lead to a disaster.
  • In Pakistan, youth is motivated to use short forms of words and sentences while updating their profiles on social networks. This affects their writing and comprehending capabilities. It is observed in examinations, that students tend to use short forms of words to save their time. 
  • Although social networking sites don’t require much bandwidth to share various things but sometimes they may involve links from other sites like YouTube that reduces internet speed for other more important tasks that require large bandwidth for example in networking and telecommunications. 
  • Employees may damage reputation of an organization when they view and share objectionable and illicit Ads on social networking sites. 

What are positive and negative effects of using social networking sites in Pakistan?
Due to lack of proper coaching for finding jobs in Pakistan, people look for online sources to find job opportunities. LinkedIn helps in connecting with professionals of different fields and organizations and they help quite a lot in career building. Social networks like Facebook are used to educate people about Islam by sharing Quranic verses and Hadiths. People have enhanced their political, religious and social awareness through social networks.
Looking at the dark side of the picture, social networks have lead to wastage of time for students and employees at work. While using Facebook, people simply forget about the time and keep chatting with their buddies. This behavior severely affects the performance of students in their academics and also the business and marketing industry as a lot of time is wasted in idle habits.


How to use social networking sites safely at workplace?
Keeping in view the pros and cons of using social networks, it is up to an organization whether they can afford to relax their employees or not. If controlled usage of social networks is practiced, then it doesn’t harm the environment of the company. Some steps may be taken in this regard:

  • Spread awareness among employees about pros and cons of social networks.
  • Allow them to use social networking websites in official break timings only.
  • Keep an eye on sharing of data by employees on social networking sites so as to avoid uploading confidential data.
  • Company’s data should have a proper backup on a system that doesn’t allow networking. Even if malfunctioning of all the systems occurs due to viruses on social networking sites, the data will still be saved.
  • A server should be installed to maintain the log of internet usage.
  • Users of social networking sites should be careful while interacting with people of other organizations and shouldn’t tell them their marketing or business tactics.

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