According to a recent survey conducted by Salary.com, 64% of employees visit non-work related websites everyday during work hours. The biggest culprit is Facebook, at 41%. Of those who access personal sites during work, 68% spend as much as two hours per work day, with reasons that include not being challenged or satisfied, or being bored.
So, what is an employer to do about this? Banning access to personal websites is not practical. Employees will circumvent the ban by using their mobile devices, and will resent you on top of it. Instead, I suggest the following approach.
Accept this as reality. Employees spend long hours at work. Because of the prevalence of mobile devices, they will access Facebook and other personal websites whether you allow it or not. You cannot be Big Brother at all times, at all places, and with all employees. Instead of banning Facebook and the like, train your employees on the appropriate use of social networks and other non-work related sites, including the benefits your organization will realize from the work-related use social networks.
Remove the incentive. If disengagement and boredom are the biggest causes of distraction, engage your employees and keep them busy. They will be more productive, you will be more profitable, and we won’t have to keep having these conversations.
And, for more on these issues, my book, Think Before You Click: Strategies for Managing Social Media in the Workplace is available.