Between March and April this year Microsoft carried out a survey of nearly 10,000 ‘knowledge workers’ across 32 countries. The aim of the survey was to establish people’s use and perception of social media in the business.
The top five uses for social tools were as follows:
- Communicating with colleagues 68%
- Sharing and reviewing documents 50%
- Communicating with customers and clients 47%
- Promoting a work-related initiative 31%
- Growing my professional network 36%
The research also looked into the reasons for restrictions of the use of social media tools at work. The top five reasons were:
- Security concerns 68%
- Productivity loss 58%
- Human resources concerns 28%
- Concerns about company image 25%
- Data loss 24%
Interestingly the research then went on to look at the impact of social tools on productivity. Across the board, respondents reported that social media tools had boosted productivity. The biggest impact were in countries such as China, India, Turkey and Mexico where the use of these tools is most common.
Three in 10 respondents said they would spend their own money on social tools in the workplace fit made them more productive. However, 30% of respondents said the managers embrace social tools and more than a third for the company underestimates the benefit of them.
On the Social media collective research blog, authored by Microsoft research, Nancy Baym highlights research by Warwick Business School into social network interactions in enterprises. According to Baym, this research shows that using social media at work could actually enhance workers productivity.
Baym then goes on to look at how she uses Twitter in her own work as a researcher. She says Twitter enables her to:
- Turn to her followers for sources and ideas
- Build camaraderie that can help diminish the stress of difficult days
- Build rapport between colleagues
In signing off her blog post blame suggests that many workers find it useful to work outside of work hours and are enabled to do so using mobile technology and social media tools. The issue she contends is not of productivity but of fairness. To quote:
If work now has a place in our social time, why shouldn’t social time have a place at work? Fair’s fair.
Considering the scale of the research I thought it would be useful to share some of the findings. The report can be found here.