MailGuard lifts lid on workplace Web use

Facebook accessed more than news by employees

Facebook may not be the bane of workplace productivity that some employers believe, according to a report released by MailGuard on workplace Web behaviour in Australia.

The DataCurve Report shows that Australian workers only accessed Facebook for nine minutes per session on average, with each visit coming every second day. Twitter clocked in at around five minutes per session every three days.

Craig McDonald, CEO of MailGuard and co-author of the DataCurve Report, says that social networking should be embraced by employers. "The report clearly shows that although workers are accessing social media sites like Facebook, the majority of those people are not affecting their overall output," he said.

Data indicates that social networking sites were the preferred destination for employees who go online during working hours. Facebook achieved a 40 percent penetration rate, up from just 24 percent a year earlier and equating to more than 2.2 million Australians visiting the site each month while at work. Twitter now has a 17 percent penetration rate in the workplace, up from three per cent last year.

With more than 5 million Australians online at any time during work, top news sites attracted between 900,000 and 2.1 million unique workplace visitors in any given month — less than social media websites. However news sites strongly differed with social media in terms of engagement, with many having double the number of monthly visits as the leading social networking sites.

"The concept that the day is divided into three distinct parts — sleep, work and availability to media — is no longer true. Work and media are now strongly intertwined," said McDonald.

McDonald believes that social media can be a useful tool for companies to utilise and expand their business. "It's about building relationships with clients and social media has a large impact. Essentially, it can be a face to the company, but the question remains — do businesses have the time and resources to invest in social media?"

Twenty percent of the 8400 surveyed workers were "highly Web-active" employees that recorded almost two hours of Web activity over an eight hour day. "This sort of usage does have an adverse effect on productivity," said McDonald.

McDonald believes that it is important that employers should make it clear whether Facebook or Twitter was in the same category as smoke breaks and coffee runs, which may be seen as possible distractions.

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