At a fundamental business level, social media is a useful additional tool for communicating and collaborating with customers, colleagues and new business prospects. From an HR point of view, the social web is not only useful for recruitment but also as a knowledge network. At an employee level, social media is changing the way we work: Employees increasingly expect to be able to access personal technology and services in the workplace. As the lines between work and home life blur, staff are looking for greater flexibility in their roles; working from home is an increasing trend, but so too is ‘home-ing from work’, where staff expect to be able to perform personal tasks at work.
But social media brings risk and reward to business in equal measure. Information security is a key concern: Many organisations view social media channels as yet another route along which sensitive data can escape from the business, whether accidentally or maliciously. On top of this, senior management may be concerned about the amount of time employees spend on social networks.
This cultural shift raises new questions about trust in the workplace, the balance of power in employer / employee relationship and levels of control over people and content.
Organisations using content and web security technology can manage the way their staff use email and the internet without having to resort to a default position of mistrust. With a whopping third of ANZ employers completely blocking social media access at work, there’s a real danger of throwing the benefits of collaboration out with the risks.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are Clearswift’s tips for ensuring the communications flow freely without losing sight of acceptable use policies:
Trust breeds responsibility: People underestimate the amount of company time they spend on personal browsing. Allow staff to view their own web usage and foster more responsible behaviour without undermining trust.
Know limits: Set clear limits on personal surfing and communicate them to users. Alert them when they are approaching their limit. Help your people to play by the rules.
Share the load: Spread responsibility for usage reporting among managers and department heads so everyone gets to see how their usage impacts on the rest of the organisation. This also gives managers greater control and visibility into usage.
Need to know: Yes, you need reports and visibility. What you don’t need is employee data becoming common knowledge. Access control means reporting can be adjusted on a need-to-know basis.
Keep it simple: Use reporting software that allows you to customise and automate your guidelines and policies.
Don't break, bend: All acceptable usage policies need the flexibility to adapt to different job functions and departments. Policy should reflect the way you do business.
Prevent data spill: Don't be the next news headline. Communicate data security strategy clearly to all employees. And reinforce this with regular education and updates. You can't expect people to adhere to policies they don't know exist.
About the author
Phil Vasic is regional director, APAC, at Clearswift