Gov2.0 advocate Steph Gray is trying to find out how many work computer users in the UK have access to social media blocked for personal or professional use. It’s a widespread issue, thanks to the concern of many employers at the Facebook work-crack media hype of the last two years.
Some employers block social networking because they’re scared of digital nasties in the network if they let their staff use internet resources that are reputedly riddled with viruses and phishers. Some block rich media because they worry they’ll need a mortgage for the bandwidth once their staff hear about YouTube. Some over-block by accident because they bought an out-of-the-box filter that they don’t know how to tweak, and that gets in the way almost as much as it helps.
Some of them though block social media where they can’t see a work relevance, because they don’t trust their staff to use this responsibly, and think they’ll do the digital equivalent of window gazing all day if you let them. I had a radio interview 2 years back, debating with a blocking employer who actually used the phrase “If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile”, at which point even the studiously neutral host started having a pop at him.
Dinosaur attitudes in relating to their staff (especially the latest generation entering the workforce, for whom this is second nature), but also dinosaur attitudes in many cases to their own businesses – as social media are fast becoming a mainstream part of working life. The message is to evolve fur fast – these are powerful tools for encouraging innovation and making valuable connections.
So have a go at Steph’s quiz and see where your employer comes out – it works by showing you a stream of 2.0 services until your firewall borks from the sheer aching trendiness of it all, or something like that. I’ll have a pop tomorrow. Fingers crossed, my employer will come out fairly well. My job actually involves official work accounts on a dozen social media services, without too many hitches, and a growing number of colleagues are using similar tools in different ways, to complement or extend the work they do.
And a quick warning before you do it – find out first where you stand on this stuff with NSFW – a set of precautionary interactive training tools that Steph, I and others collaborated on recently, covering all the ways your office computer is likely to earn you the sack, and featuring a short film of a puppy, doing what seems to be an informal version of Steph’s test.