Microsoft Finds Employees Are More Productive With Access To Social Media Tools
May 28, 2013

Microsoft Finds Employees Are More Productive With Access To Social Media Tools

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

Many employers don´t like it when workers spend the day socializing instead of working and for good reason. It isn´t just those who spend the day by the water cooler that is a cause for concern, an array of new and improving social tools have also become a concern amongst employers.

However, according to a new survey conducted by Microsoft, nearly 50 percent of employees said that they believed social tools make them more productive, yet 30 percent of companies restrict the use of these tools or undervalue their potential.

“On the enterprise level, businesses have to be agile to keep up with the competition. And since communicating and sharing information with people is fundamental to the success of any business, many enterprises are taking measures to employ tools that can provide that extra edge,” the survey noted.

The new survey, which was conducted by Ipsos for Microsoft, further found women were more likely to use social tools in four of the five implementations of social media, including communications with colleagues, sharing/reviewing of documents, communicating with clients and promoting work-related initiatives; while men were more likely to grow their professional networks.

On the other hand, the study found that men were more likely than women to attribute higher productivity levels to social tools when used in a professional setting; while women were more likely to believe that the company restricted the use of such tools. As for concerns about using social media, men noted security issues while women suggested it was productivity loss.

The study found that security concerns were higher with financial services and government fields, with 74 percent of respondents in the financial sector and 72 percent in the government sector noting these specific concerns. By contrast 59 percent in the retail sector along with 57 percent in the travel and hospitality sector were more likely to blame productivity loss as a reason to restrict social tools from being implemented.

The Microsoft-commissioned survey also broke down reasons for restrictions by country.

“Productivity loss was seen as the No. 1 reason given by workers in nine countries for restrictions placed against them in the office, including Belgium, Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and Spain. Security concerns were cited by the remaining 23 countries as their top reason for restricting social tools,” the study noted.

The study added that in some cases the use of social tools has created some problems. In India and Chile, where the use of such tools is more likely to be encouraged by employers, four in 10 said that they had gotten into trouble for using the tools at work.

Distractions were also reportedly more widespread among younger adults.

Not surprising, however, was Microsoft´s stance that the use of social tools could actually lead to collaboration in the workplace.

“Just as email accelerated the pace of business in the ℠90s, enterprise social will be the driver of greater agility and transformation in the 21st century workplace,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division, in a statement. “As we look ahead at how collaboration and communications continue to evolve, we believe the tools people use today -- email, instant messaging, voice, videoconferencing, social -- will come together and be deeply integrated into apps in ways that will speed collaboration and truly transform the way people work.”

Microsoft further stressed that many employees see value in the use of social tools, so much that these employees would pay for their own tools if necessary.

“About three in 10 respondents said they would spend their own money on social tools in the workplace if it made them more productive,” the reported suggested. “Yet many employers do not seem to recognize the value of social tools; just 30 percent of respondents feel their managers embrace social tools, and more than one-third feel their company underestimates the benefits of these tools.”