Social networks in the workplace - survey

Social networks can improve employee productivity although some employers remain unconvinced.

A new Microsoft report, 'Microsoft Survey on Enterprise Social Use and Perceptions', presents the results of a survey of 10,000 'information workers' around the globe to gain a picture of how they are using – or in some cases are banned from using – social networks and tools in the workplace. The findings highlight differences in behaviours by gender, age, country and activity. 

How are people using social tools in the workplace? 

The most popular activities:

  • Communicating with colleagues                     68%
  • Sharing and reviewing documents                  50%
  • Communicating with clients                           47%
  • Growing professional networks                       36%
  • Promoting work related initiatives                  31%
  • Vendor communication                                 31%
  • Finding in-house expertise                            29%
  • Researching customer industries                    24%

Employers restricting access

Approximately 60% of respondents state they have full access to all of the tools they need to do the best possible work.  However about 40% report that IT departments can be a barrier to access.  Survey participants were asked to cite if, and the reasons why, access to social media tools was restricted in their workplace.  Security reasons were given as the most important reason by participants in 23 countries.  Worries about employee productivity were given as the major cause in nine countries.

Improving productivity

Ironically, while many employers worry about the impact of social tools on employee productivity (only 30% feel their managers embrace social tools), employees feel that social tools can and do actually improve their productivity.

Participants in China, India, Mexico, Russia and Turkey were both the most likely to be using these tools in the workplace, and to feel that their productivity had improved because of their usage.  Those working in travel, publishing and IT were amongst those who felt the tools made them more productive.

The Microsoft Survey on Enterprise Social Use and Perceptions is available as a pdf.  9908 people were surveyed in the following 32 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, US.

Image courtesy of Jason A Howie via Flickr.