Council staff banned from Facebook

Posted on September 2, 2009

 

Staff wasting time on Internet sites is one of the biggest causes of lost man hours in businesses in the UK, and the social networking website Facebook has taken over from sites like eBay and MySpace as the biggest drain on employee’s time.

This often results in businesses banning its employees from social networking websites such as Facebook, as Portsmouth Council has just done. A report by the council found that it had lost around 400 hours in employees’ time each month because of staff using Facebook when they should have been working. The council has now acted to ban staff from using Facebook, saving tax payers’ money.

Mark Wallace, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said of the banning order:

It is sad that it has reached a point where councils need to ban staff from Facebook.

But people are employed to work hard for the taxpayer and this is clearly a waste of public money.

David Williams from Portsmouth City Council stated that the ban wasn’t permanent and anyone who needed to use websites for council business could do so if they needed to:

We regularly revise our position on this as the internet environment is constantly changing.

We revised the policy in July to facilitate work life balance and allow things like internet banking in staff’s own time but we intend to restrict internet access to social networking sites more than at present for non-business use.

Any member of staff may, under this revised policy, make a business case to have these sites unblocked if they need to use them for council business.

The fact that the council does realise that Facebook can be used for business use is a good thing, as many companies just take a blanket approach to Facebook and other social networking websites. Facebook and Twitter are the fastest ways to reach customers, clients and the voters (which is important for councils more than anyone) so they should be used where necessary.

Simply banning your employees from using Facebook is failing to capitalise on the potential marketing power that social networking websites can offer.

  • […] Porstmouth City Council actually recognise that Facebook use can be for business purposes, and are prepared to allow staff to use Facebook where required, including responding to issues raised on Facebook by Portsmouth Council’s own […]

  • SirBigWig says:

    I agree there is commercial potential in facebook and other social networking sites, but this is really marginal compared with the amount of time spent on it by employees.

    I am sure the occasions in which council staff HAD to use facebook in order to do their job would be very few indeed. It wouldn’t be appropriate to remind someone of their council tax by poking them for example.

    However I also agree that an out and out ban is also misconceived, not because of the potential commercial loss, but because it could cause problems with staff morale. You need time to relax during the working day, and so browsing on facebook during breaks maybe one way of unwinding. Therefore I don’t think you should have to make a “case” for using it, more that it should be allowed, for a limited period during the day.

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