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Joe,

It seems that Twitter has heightened the debate in the workplace over “to block, or not to block” employee access to social media and social networking sites. The argument is typically rooted in concerns about data security and productivity. The question is really whether or not allowing these sites into the workplace will ruin the company.

In my experience, the data security concern is a smoke screen used by technical folks to get you to give up the fight easily. Anyone who encounters this resistance should push harder. The real issue is productivity loss–which I think is a legitimate concern.

I, for one, have wasted a lot of time on Twitter, for example. I’ve done most of this on my own time because I wanted to understand how it works. I also have a belief that it can be a useful tool to me once I finally figure it out. Unfortunately, despite being a relatively savvy technology user, Twitter proved harder to figure out than I expected and has take up a lot of my time.

So, if it can happen to me, why wouldn’t the same thing happen to everyone else. Despite best intentions or noble plans, having access to a site like this could destract the undisciplined in our workforce from accomplishing their more important tasks. At least that’s how the thinking goes.

If a company is working hard on performance management and engagement, their employees will know how to appropriately use these sites. Each employee will be clear on what’s expected of them and will feel compelled to contribute to the organization’s success. If these two conditions exist, providing your employees access to Twitter, Facebook and the rest is simply an act of giving them access to tools they will use to help the company succeed.

So, if a company is blocking access to these sites, it’s probalby less about productivity and more about leadership–and it’s a shame.

Jason

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