Social networks banned by half of British businesses

More than half of British businesses have officially banned access to social networking sites.

According to a new survey of 2,000 employees in the UK, 48% of organisations have banned them from using Facebook during working hours.

The survey, conducted by IT firm HCL Technologies and Lewis PR, also found that 63% of the bosses who have not officially banned access to social networking sites actively discourage their use during working hours.

Nearly half of the employees quizzed felt that the ban was not related to productivity but rather for the sake of the firms’ reputations. In total, 45% of respondents thought that employers “feared business reputation was at stake” if employees posted negative comments about their firm in public.

This survey is not the first to show employers’ concern over the use of social networking sites in the workplace.

Last year, a report by Webroot found that around half of the SMEs in the UK and the USA had banned workers from using social networks in the office. However, that survey blamed security concerns for employers’ fears.

Vineet Nayar, chief executive of HCL Technologies, said that UK businesses were risking “corporate suicide” by neglecting workers’ interests in social networking sites. He said: “Social networking is like food and drink to Generation Y workers; they are so used to communicating in a more open and collaborative way.

“Forward- looking companies should be aiming to encourage social media activity amongst their employees rather than stifling it. While we always advocate responsible use of social networks in the office, banning them outright will impact employees’ approach to work in a negative way, having a detrimental effect on the business as a whole.”