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The rise of social media in the workplace

The rise of social media in the workplace

Sanjay Modi discusses the rise of social media in the workplace

What was once frowned upon in the workplace is now being weaved into the professional lifestyle of thousands of employees from businesses of all sizes and industries.

Social media platforms, connecting millions of people around the world with their friends, family and dear ones, are reinventing themselves to target people in a previously unexplored environment– the office setting. Offering more cost-effective solutions, as well as modern design, ease of use, speed and connectivity, they are putting the company intranet at risk of extinction.

A good example of social platforms venturing out into the corporate world is Facebook. Having launched Facebook at Work, the social media platform is now being used by over 450 companies around the world from a variety of industries from F&B to finance.

Skype is another example. We are able to connect with up to 250 people around the world using Skype for Business, which is replacing traditional video conferencing and enabling easier online and offline meeting scheduling. This is helping to break geographical barriers with seamless and cost-effective communication and, with the compatibility of most work devices, is offering employees enhanced mobility.

Breaking company borders

Social media has reduced email traffic by providing an alternative communication channel for corporate announcements and group messaging.

Another communication advantage of using such platforms is the ability to access a broad range of talent in your company – across geographies, levels and business departments. While it would have previously been difficult to bring together your London business development team with your marketing team in Singapore and legal team in New York, now you can easily do so and keep people connected and part of as many groups as you want or need.

So far, these transformations seem promising. An active online community allows members to feel more connected to each other on professional and personal levels, which enhances productivity
and creativity levels and increases employee satisfaction.

This is extended to external parties such as suppliers, clients, investors or business partners where relationships can become warmer and more cooperative. Social media is an excellent way to network with international experts, colleagues and new business leads to generate a wealth of knowledge and potentially more business.

It is also a great performance indicator tool for employers who are able to observe the activity and development of workers with a bird’s eye view of business activity around the clock.

How easy is it to introduce?

Companies should carefully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using social media in the office. There is no single approach that will work for all.

For example, employers must consider the demographic disposition of their workforce. While young employees will be quick to jump at the opportunity to use familiar social media platforms at work, older generations might feel a little intimidated at such initiatives and may require sufficient training.

There are a number of social media platforms that can be used in professional settings and each presents unique benefits. Companies should determine which platforms have the best potential to fulfil their specific business needs.

If employers decide that social media will support their corporate strategy, they should consider the effect of negative sentiments posted online and how this might affect the corporate environment and image. Managers must be well prepared to deal with such cases and make efforts to prevent them.

It may also be necessary to provide employees with guidelines for social media use to avoid the posting of sensitive topics pertinent to the local and corporate culture.

Furthermore, precautionary steps must be taken to ensure that sensitive information being shared on social media platforms is well secured. There are many products available in the market that provides a wide range of security levels with different features. Company CTOs should determine the protection level and features that best suit organisation requirements.

Social media is no longer only relevant for personal use. As the corporate world crawls into the digital space, businesses are starting to realise the potential that platforms designed specifically for professional purposes have on business success and cross-border operations.

Sanjay Modi is managing director – APAC and Middle East at Monster.com

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