Social Media at work-too much regulation?

Something that we have talked about repeatedly in class is the dependency we have on social media and also perhaps its pervasiveness in our everyday lives. It seems that a new app, or channel of communication is created to bolster interactivity around the world, creating networks, relationships, friendships and connecting people with information in a heartbeat. It’s something we check first thing in the morning, while we are waiting at the bus stop or even at work. So how does this affect the work environment and does it require rigid regulation? Well, firstly, for some it is their job to monitor all channels of social media and respond to customer enquiry, but then you may have people sitting on Facebook all day so where can the line be drawn for both employer and employee? The issue stems from the notions of power, that our employers wield to keep employees in line, productive and moreover, producing positive content about their workplace. Reading some social media policies was quite shocking as there are vast disparities between the small business and the multi-national company, and even, as pointed out in class just non-existent. In the example of Smith and Fitzgerald the employer was found to have unfairly dismissed an employee based on the comments she made about the work industry on facebook. The main problem that social media poses, is that its flexibility, rapid consumption and instant presence have left companies behind, and so rather than come up with a detailed policy for example that of Cisco Social Media, companies may ban activity on social media within work hours, or even as far as not being able to discuss or share information about colleagues outside the workplace. On a micro and more identifiable level, social media at work has the private world and the public sphere intersect. So even though someone’s facebook page is private, once the comment has been made it enters a public domain whereby the content can be shared, reproduced and no longer is the property of the author and this is where the problem occurs. It is there for essential that upon employment you read your contract carefully before signing the dotted line, because although the social media is for private use it has consequences if seen to be used in the ‘wrong way’. However, some sort of compromise must be shown by both the employer and employee, rigid regulation, will create resistance and leniency may bring about unimaginable and uncontrollable discourse. For myself I just don’t engage with social media and kept my nose clean so far…Fired!

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