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Helping people and organizations work well in the virtual workplace



Does social media impact productivity for virtual teams?


11/19/2012

An interesting study was released today exploring the relationship between social media and productivity.  This has important implications for remote workers and especially those telecommuters who work from home - they already face perception issues regarding their productivity and how they spend their time.  

We have long suggested that expansion of the virtual workplace is actually a positive factor relative to performance management.  Remote work arrangements, by their very nature, require a clear understanding of expectations, deliverables, productivity targets, etc.  Gone are the days of 'face time' (that's a NEW thing now!)...when just being at work gave the impression that work was being done.  Indeed, with the ever-expanding role of distance work, leaders and teams must work together to agree on outcomes.  This should, if done properly, provide for more focus on the important things that contribute to productivity.  

Is participation in social media a detriment to workplace productivity (whether it is a traditional or virtual work environment)?  It certainly could be, just as any distraction can negatively impact productivity.  The challenging difference is that access to social media is directly available at the very place where work is done, e.g., at the keyboard (unlike other distractions, such as doing laundry while working at home). Therefore, this merits discussion within virtual teams and establishment of guidelines (rather than unenforceable rules) to manage any negative consequences.  More importantly, a focus on performance targets and a clear understanding of what's expected (and the consequences of not delivering) should be a deterrent to unchecked whiling away of time on social media sites.