IT glitches waste more time than social networking, survey says

Since Facebook first became a hit a few years ago, managers and IT pros have been wondering if the use of social networking at work will destroy productivity. But social media isn’t the biggest time-waster out there, according to one recent survey. 

Wasting time at work is nothing new — people have always had personal conversations on the phone or in person with co-workers during business hours. However, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other extremely popular social networking sites, employees now have access to more distractions than ever.

In response, many IT departments have been asked to block access to those sites or more closely monitor employee web use. Some have chosen to avoid blanket policies, and many others are still figuring out the best way to manage social networking at work.

Managers, executives and IT pros often disagree about the issue: Some believe it’s necessary to block social networking at work, while others feel that they should focus on individual performance and allow people to take short breaks to check personal sites when they want.

Top ways users waste time at work

Here’s some more fuel for the debate: Social networking at work isn’t as big a threat to productivity as some organizations may believe, according to a recent survey from online database service TrackVia.

It turns out that the most time wasted during business hours comes as a result of three things that have existed much longer than Facebook: water cooler talk, endless meetings and technical support problems.

When asked what was the biggest cause of their wasted time at work, just 5% of the 300 users surveyed said social media sites. The top four answers given were:

  • Conversations with co-workers (14%)
  • Computer glitches (11%)
  • Meetings (11%), and
  • Web surfing (9%).

What’s it mean for IT managers? While IT departments don’t normally have the final say in deciding the company’s social media policy, these results suggest that IT pros would be better off spending less time trying to block and monitor social networking at work, and focus more on improving help desk performance so those computer glitches have less of an impact on productivity.