David Prosser: Memo to all mean bosses

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The Independent Online

Outlook Here's a useful piece of research for deprived staff working for the growing number of employers that have blocked access to social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. The think-tank Demos says such companies might be doing more harm than good. Rather than wasting hours better spent on company business, users of Facebook and the like are actually developing invaluable communication skills that will boost productivity in the longer-term, Demos reckons.

It's not the first time that such conclusions have been reached. A study by web consultancy Gartner reached the same view earlier this year, citing the example of a company that cut its recruitment costs by encouraging staff to find potential job candidates via their online social networks.

No doubt there will be plenty of employers who simply do not accept Demos's message. But actually, this is a pretty basic management exercise.

Companies that ban outright the the use of sites such as Facebook are tacitly admitting that their employees can't be trusted not to behave like feckless time-wasters – and that they themselves don't have the skills and processes to deal with the small minority who do misbehave.