Facebook: Killing 1.5 Percent of Productivity

Companies that allow employees to sign into Facebook on the clock are losing 1.5 percent of total employee productivity.

So says a survey by Nucleus Research Inc., which interviewed 237 randomly selected office workers about their Facebook use. Admittedly, that's not the most scientific sample, but it does give a snapshot.

Of those interviewed:
• Seventy-seven percent had a Facebook account.
• Of those with Facebook accounts, nearly two-thirds accessed Facebook during working hours.
• Those who accessed Facebook at work did so for an average of 15 minutes each  day.
• Eighty-seven percent of those who accessed Facebook at work couldn’t define a clear business reason for doing so.
• Of those who accessed Facebook at work, 6 percent never went on Facebook anywhere else (i.e., home) — meaning one in every 33 workers built their entire Facebook profile during work hours.

Despite those possibly disheartening numbers, 13 percent of users had a business reason to get on Facebook, to promote a business, product, event or fan site, as part of an overall marketing strategy.

The employees who accessed Facebook at work used it for an average of 15 minutes a day, but some used it for as few as a minute and some as long as two hours. Nucleus arrived at the 1.5 percent of total employee productivity figure thusly:
  • Percentage of workers with a Facebook account 77%
  • Percentage of Facebook users that access Facebook at work 61%
  • Percentage of total workforce accessing Facebook at work 47%
  • Average minutes accessed per day 15
  • Total lost productivity to Facebook across the entire employee population 1.47%
Nucleus seems to be rather down on Facebook, as well as Twitter and other social networking tools:
"... companies should carefully weigh the total business benefit of lead generation and qualification or responding to comments on social networking sites about their operations or products against the potential broader productivity loss of all employees with access to those sites (Nucleus is currently quantifying the productivity impact of Twitter).
And Nucleus also pointed out that some employees might be using the internal Facebook e-mail as a way to get around company oversight of traditional corporate and web-based e-mail. "For organizations that have invested in security software to secure sensitive information and limit their transmission via e-mail, Facebook can help users circumvent those controls, opening up the potential to violate corporate communication policies."

Nucleus suggests barring access to Facebook and other social networking sites as a way to increase productivity until it can be proven that the business use would outweigh the productivity loss.

Because, after all, employees aren't going to find any other way to waste time at work.