Facebook and other social media cost UK billions

LONDON Thu Aug 5, 2010 12:09pm EDT

A Facebook page is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

A Facebook page is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Thierry Roge

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LONDON (Reuters) - Employees who fritter time away on Facebook, Twitter and other social media Web sites are costing British businesses billions, new research suggests.

British employment website MyJobGroup.co.uk said it polled 1,000 British workers and found that nearly six percent, or 2 million, of Britain's 34 million-strong workforce spent over an hour per day on social media while at work, amounting to more than one eighth of their entire working day.

"Our results clearly show that UK workers are spending increased time whilst at work on social media networks, which, left unchecked, could have negative repercussions on the productivity of many companies across the country," Managing Director of Myjobgroup.co.uk Lee Fayer said in a statement with the results of the survey.

MyJobGroup.co.uk said that work time lost on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks could potentially be costing Britain up to 14 billion pounds ($22.16 billion).

The research showed more than half of British workers (55 percent) confessed to accessing social media profiles at work, with many spending so much time friending, tweeting, adding photos and video, as well as updating their profiles, that companies' productivity was suffering as a result.

Despite the negative effects on the economy in the midst of a fragile recovery, many workers polled were in denial about the ill-effects of social media on their efficiency. Only 14 percent of respondents admitted to being less productive as a result of social media and 10 percent even claimed social media had made them more productive.

What's more, there was still widespread resistance to banning access to social networks at work, with over two thirds (68 percent) advocating some form of access during working hours. Only one third wanted sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube barred during work time, demonstrating the growing importance of social media to the daily routine and the widespread resistance to its access being limited.

"Whilst we're certainly not kill-joys, people spending over an hour per day in work time on the likes of Facebook and Twitter are seriously hampering companies' efforts to boost productivity, which is more important than ever given the fragile state of our economy," Fayer said.

"Companies would do well to monitor use of social networking sites during work hours and ensure that their employees are not abusing their freedom of access to these sites."

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Comments (5)
ElroyFromIowa wrote:
That’s why opendns is such a good idea. And it’s free.

Aug 05, 2010 12:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bykimbo wrote:
The trouble with these sort of claims of costing business X billion pounds, is they all based on the false assumption that if the people weren’t doing the activity in question, they’d be working instead. I think most people have a built-in slacking-off quota and they’ll spend that one way or another. If it doesn’t go on Twitter, it will go on chatting about football or last night’s TV programmes, or standing outside smoking. Productivity isn’t being affected, since the time was never going to be channelled effectively in the first place.

Aug 05, 2010 1:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
CowboyVampire wrote:
An hour a day isn’t much IF employees – as they are in the U.S. – are spending more and more time at their job. In fact, blurring the lines between work and life only benefits companies as employees will remain more engaged for longer periods of time. Imagine the opposite of “clock watchers.”

Aug 05, 2010 1:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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