With the line becoming increasingly blurred between your work and your personal life, you have probably already had a dig through social media and found your work colleagues on Facebook, and maybe added a few of them – but is it really a good idea?
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be limit communicating with your colleagues to email or in person at the office, but with intimate details of people’s lives being cast out all over social media you have to wonder how comfortable you are with it potentially having an impact on how you are seen at work.
LinkedIn is a sensible option, of course. While certain employees might not be willing to be your friend on other social media channels, they might still be willing to connect with you via a professional networking service that does not give you unwanted exposure into their personal life and potentially enhances their prospects.
To begin with, it can be fairly difficult to try predict what might happen inside your business over the course of the next year. Relationships could change anytime from a professional point of view – you might have an argument with a coworker and if you had already befriended them on social media, you cannot just unfriend them and not expect nothing to change. An Australian Workplace Tribunal even went as far to say unfriending a colleague could be deemed bullying.
No matter how hard you try, gossip and rumours will always be a thorn in many work environments. One little remark can be blown out of proportion and what started as something innocent like a personal opinion could spread like wildfire, and offend colleagues who catch wind. Having your personal life talked about behind your back can affect your personal relationships and trust with other coworkers who might then use it to harm your professional prospects.
How far you progress at your job can also be influenced by being able to see what your colleagues are up to outside of the office, which can put you in a compromising position. This is especially true when it comes to absenteeism. Your workmate might have called in sick, but then you see photos on your timeline of them spending the day partying it up with friends. Over time, you have to give an honest appraisal of that staff member or you might be put in a superior position and when it comes to awarding promotions, that information could leave you in an awkward position between your ‘friendship’ and the company’s best interests.
And that is where Facebook is swooping in to try and save the day. By aiming to introduce the best of both worlds into their latest product, Facebook at Work aims to shake up the way workers talk to each other – and possibly even replace mail. Users create a profile that allows them to keep in touch with coworkers, work on projects, collaborate on forums without having the risk of having personal updates come up on work feeds.
“Facebook at Work lets our staff communicate, discuss and solve problems faster and more efficiently in a way that tools, such as email, simply can’t.” – Kevin Hanley, Director of Design, Royal Bank of Scotland
The program is near the end of its pilot stage, with 450 companies including Heineken and RBS selected out of over 60,000 applicants to trial Facebook for Work and have already found that they can substantially reduce their reliance on internal systems such as an intranet, network conferencing and distribution lists. With a larger scale release anticipated in early autumn (US), it will be interesting to see how it stacks up against existing networking giants including LinkedIn.