Why Banning Social Media Won’t Solve Your Productivity Problems

March 21, 2024

As a business owner, nothing is more frustrating than seeing your employees wasting time on social media when they should be working. With all those hours spent scrolling Facebook feeds or messaging back and forth, it’s no wonder productivity seems to plummet whenever anyone opens a browser.

The solution seems obvious: block those distracting sites on company networks! No more Facebook, no more TikTok, problem solved, right?
Not so fast …

On the surface, a social media ban does seem to address the root of the issue. But as any experienced IT professional can tell you, things are rarely that simple. After helping countless large and small businesses tackle this challenge, we’ve learned that a blanket block on social media is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut – it causes far more problems than it solves.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work

While blocking social networks may deter some employees, the truth is that almost every employee now has a smartphone on them at all times.

Even if you block social media on company PCs and Wi-Fi, anyone determined to waste time will simply use their phone’s data plan instead, and you can’t realistically expect to confiscate all employee phones during work hours.

It can also result in workarounds

We’ve seen many cases where overly restrictive social media policies lead to “shadow IT” workarounds that IT teams aren’t even aware of. Employees might use encrypted messaging apps, VPNs, or other methods to secretly access blocked sites. This means your network could be left vulnerable to security risks from unknown access points.

Management policies are key

Rather than taking an “out of sight, out of mind” approach, a better solution is to develop clear and reasonable management policies around appropriate social media use. For example, they allow limited personal use but prohibit it during core working hours or client meetings. Employees are also less likely to resent reasonable guidelines than overly Draconian blocks.

Wasted time has always existed

At the end of the day, there will always be a few employees who find ways to waste some work time, whether on social networks or otherwise.
This was true long before the internet. I’m sure many business owners have glimpsed an employee surreptitiously reading the newspaper!
Blocking tools are not a magic bullet for productivity. An emphasis on management, monitoring outputs rather than inputs, and developing a positive company culture will be more effective.

In summary, while it’s understandable why business owners want to block social media, a blanket ban usually doesn’t work and can even backfire. The smarter approach is to set clear guidelines and focus on overall employee management instead.

Let us know if you need any help developing your social media or BYOD policies.