The impact of social media is blurring the distinction between work and personal life, with many employees connected at home or while travelling.
Employers may be concerned that some employees use company computers and smart phones for sending emails to friends, updating social network accounts, or even shopping online. This is a problem which can be difficult for line managers to control, as employees can switch quickly on screen between their work and personal use.
Monitoring employees’ use of social media might seem reasonable but it can cause bad feeling among staff and maybe time consuming for managers.
On the other hand, employees can use emails, smart phones, internal message boards to keep in touch and exchange information and speed up decision making.
There can be times when electronic communication can be less subtle and effective than talking face to face with an employee. Direct contact with an employee may allow a manager to pick up signals and respond empathetically to the person when dealing with sensitive situations.
The challenge for employers is to develop a policy that balances the need for control with the interest of the employee and to switch the focus to managing output rather than time at work.