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facebook blocked at workMany workplaces nowadays find it prudent to prevent their employees from surfing certain websites. Leading that pack of blocked websites is Facebook.

Facebook is a true phenomena in our social lives today, and many employers feel that leaving Facebook open for free surfing will cause a major waste of time and loss of productivity. But is it true? Is blocking Facebook really that smart? Many people feel that blocking Facebook at work is a mistake, but can’t quite convince their bosses. Here is an organized list of reasons why Facebook should not be blocked in the workplace that should help you convince your boss to change their mind.

Social Connections

facebook blocked at work

Many bad things can be (and are) said about Facebook. But at the end of the day, we all use it to keep social connections alive and to stay up-to-date with what’s going on with friends we don’t necessarily meet every day. This is also true for the workplace.

A good working environment is one in which there are good social connections. Facebook can help enhance these connections, especially at the beginning, when you’re just getting to know your colleagues. Let’s be honest, isn’t adding our new colleagues to Facebook one of the first steps to feeling they’re not strangers anymore?

facebook blocked

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True, you can do that from home, but the odds of doing it when you come back from a 9 hour workday are much smaller. The 5-10 minutes you all spend in work adding each other and discussing some new pictures someone uploaded can truly enhance the in-office social bonding.

Breaks Are Important

facebook blocked

Many employers seem to think that breaks are bad. In reality, breaks are necessary for productivity. It’s amazing what a 5-10 minute break every hour can do to your state of mind. Especially when you have to work in front of a screen all day in a monotonous environment.

Some people go for a smoke every hour, and that’s OK with everyone. So why not take a Facebook break every hour or two? 5-10 minutes of surfing Facebook, changing pace, reading some interesting links and looking at some pictures can work wonders on workers’ productivity.

Cellphones

facebook blocked

How efficient can blocking websites be when most people have smartphones? As I see it, it’s better to have people surf Facebook for 5 minutes from their personal computer than have them fiddling with their phones all the time. The distraction this creates is much bigger than actually surfing Facebook.

It’s true that people can use their phones no matter what, but if no websites are blocked, they’re much more likely to use their computers. So again, not blocking can work to decrease the distraction from the work environment, not increase it.

Inspiration

work blocked facebook

Many employers miss this, but social networks can actually provide quite good inspiration. A lot of people are friends with people who are in a similar line of work, and posted links or even the occasional status can sometimes provide much-needed inspiration. Communication with people is always an inspiring thing, and you never know what might come out of a 5-minute surf.

It actually happened to me that a post from a friend led me to a new article idea for MakeUseOf. If Facebook was blocked, I would have missed it!

Social Sharing For Work

Many workplaces today have Facebook pages of their own. If not a Facebook page, they surely have some kind of website they’re trying to promote. There’s no arguing about the fact that Facebook and Twitter are some of the best promotion tools around these days. Workplaces should use them!

work blocked facebook

What happens if a workplace blocks Facebook? Do they really expect their workers to “like” their pages or share their news? If Facebook was blocked in my office, I’m pretty sure I would not remember (or even want) to get home and start sharing work-related things with my friends.

Facebook is a really powerful tool. It should be used, not ignored.

Blocking Creates Spite!

Most employees are way more trustworthy than they’re given credit for. Given the freedom, the average worker will spend little time surfing Facebook, and most of their time working. But what happens when Facebook is blocked at work?

Preventing people from doing something often makes them angry and spiteful. There are no lack of ways to get through blocks if one really wants to, and when this happens, the worker is likely to spend much more time on Facebook than they would have if it was available to begin with. Not to mention the time they wasted just trying to get through the block.

The blocking itself also creates a general air of distrust which makes the worker less happy and therefore less productive. Employers would be wise to trust their workers, and thus create a much calmer environment for them.

Happiness

facebook blocked at work

What’s better than a happy worker? A happy worker will be more productive, more motivated and will produce much better products. Distrust and restrictions are a sure way to make workers unhappy.

All in all, the advantages in having happy workers is much bigger than the “saved time” gained by blocking social websites. This is the real food for thought for employers.

Bottom Line

Restrictions, especially when they feel unnecessary, only hurt productivity. A smart employer will hire people they can trust and give them the freedom they need to do their job as they see fit. This will result in a much happier and calmer environment, and much better creativity all around.

What do you think? Do you feel that blocking websites is actually good for productivity? Do you have stories from your own workplace? Share them in the comments!

Image credits: Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock

  1. Butch
    December 6, 2011 at 4:16 am

    The Boss blocked facebook and other social networks. I left my personal computer at work for the weekend and they even messed it up.
     Now that its blocked the employees feel angry. Now they are actually wasting more time searching for ways around it like proxy servers and such. The boss should stop worrying about use doing our job and do his....Finding Work...We are a construction firm and the only time we use FB is when there is Nothing To Do Because we are waiting for a job to start up

  2. Gill Mc
    October 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    This is an excellent arguement for allowing facebook, who knows, it may even create jobs in satisfying the need for the 'facebook' police within a company.  As there are always people who spoil these luxuries by overuse, most companies would probably need some sort of policing before agreeing to this policy. lol.

  3. Ata
    October 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Don't forget the privacy issues. Especially with the recent news on facebook tracking on users even when they have logged out of their accounts. Unless you delete your browser cookies  using a software like CCleaner. But on the other hand, the same can be said about Google.

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Privacy issues are always a concern, but like you said, it's not limited to Facebook, and no one blocks Google.

      Besides, I think the privacy concern is more the user's than the network's. They shouldn't want to spread those cookies on computers in the office!

      • Wastebook H8R
        October 21, 2011 at 3:51 am

        I block Google. :) And Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, the whole lot of them.

        Not sure about workplaces, but IMHO at colleges and universities, there should not be wireless access, but Internet use restricted to the library, and only for research. This is absolutely possible with services like OpenDNS and applications like DNSKong and a good quality Hosts file, replicated to all computers in the network.

        You're not at college (or work) to socialize; you're there to study (or, well, to work). I can't count how much productivity I've struggled with having to do group projects with other students who wanted to connect via Facebook rather than meet face-to-face in the library -- and then all they did was chitchat about meaningless banter on their FB pages while I did all the academic work. In the end, Facebook is nothing more than a PWOT and a time-killer. People who want breaks and socializing need to learn to do it on their own time. And when you're in college, you've got 4-6 years until your time is "your own."

        Time.com: "What Facebook Users Share: Lower Grades" (14 April 2009)
        http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1891111,00.html

        • Yaara
          October 21, 2011 at 8:16 am

          Interesting input! I didn't really think about it in the context of college that much, I guess because when I was doing my undergrad Facebook didn't even exist yet. As for graduate school, I never felt Facebook was a real distraction to anyone. 

          I do remember seeing students log on to Facebook during class when I was TAing. But I still don't think it should be blocked even there. I believe that if people are irresponsible, Facebook is not what makes them so. I had similar problems to yours in undergrad and Facebook wasn't even around then. :)

          Lazy people find ways to be lazy no matter what. At least that's what I think.

    • FlyingOkami
      October 26, 2011 at 3:09 am

      Does norton do a good job at removing cookies?

  4. Suhel
    October 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

    @my workplace we have full access to all social networking site, streaming media etc ( games, torrents and software downloads are blocked) and people use facebook all day (keep it minimized) its kinda weird why people stay on FB all day. I dont have an account of FB (am repeating it the 10th time on MOU lol)

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Well, if they keep it open but minimized and actually look at it for a few minutes every few hours, that's not such a bad thing I think.

      I wouldn't keep Facebook open all the time on a computer in an office, though. :)

  5. JohnD
    October 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I've also got to disagree with pretty much the first point, and then the rest...  You say social interaction is important in the workplace.  I agree.  with work colleagues.  I don't pick up my phone and call some buddies that I don't work with, just to be interactive with them through the day.  I get paid to be working at work!  Like ever other person, you wait until you clock off to be social with out of work friends, or use your break times.  If you can't hold yourself back from this then you don't deserve to have the job.

    So it should not be blocked, but the people using it should be aware that it's up to the employers discretion and also your work ethic that decides whether you get paid or shown the door at the end of the month.

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

      I totally agree with your last sentence, and this is what I was aiming at. When you give people the chance to be ethical, the good people will take it. If you don't trust them to begin with, even the good workers might get resentful and become less productive.

      I never meant to say that workers should use work hours to talk about the party from last night, but I think we can't ignore the fact that Facebook does help break the ice sometimes, and when there's a friendly environment people work better.

    • Butch
      December 6, 2011 at 4:25 am

      Nearly all my "friends" on My account are work colleagues, clients and sub contractors. I use FB to "Sell" the company, to attract the best Subcontractors and vendors in the construction field. My boss/owner has a trust issue with her employees. She thinks everyone is out to rip her off one way or another. But its a job. Next time they mess with my personal laptop that I forgot at the office I will not have the "Its A Job" attitude.

  6. Tpeters
    October 5, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Facebook is a total distraction.   I work for myself at home and don't go on Facebook during the day because I know it is a waste of time.  For me, my time is my money, not "the man".  Surfing on a phone is less distracting since you aren't likely to go off in a million directions and you know that if you are looking at the phone you aren't working. 

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

      I barely go on Facebook myself during the day as well, but I do find it relaxing to check out Facebook when I feel overwhelmed and too stressed out. If you actually spend too much time on there, it sure is a waste of time.

      My point was that I think people will actually spend less time there if permitted to spend a little time.

  7. Zorp311
    October 5, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Facebook should be blocked on every computer on the planet. Not even Zuckerberg should have access.

  8. Grant
    October 4, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    interesting idea. guess it depends on how well managed people are and how much you trust them. we're not in the age of sweat shops anymore but I can't help but think the internet has made us distracted at best and lazy and unproductive at worse. If a company has a policy of using the web on personal time (like lunch) sounds great otherwise I don't see many business owners/manager thinking this is a favorable thing. however given access to cell phone and facebook apps, maybe it's best to just admit people are using it and let them do so.

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

      I think most people won't actually spend their whole day on Facebook. It's not that interesting, for one thing. :)

      I think people actually work better when they're being trusted and when the work environment doesn't suppress them. There will always be those who will exploit it to just be lazy and not work, but that might be a good method to find them and get rid of them. :) 

  9. Alvin
    October 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I remember a certain program/extension that i read about which could limit the time spent at a certain website.... perhaps if offices implemented that it would possibility satisfy both the employers and employees

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

      There are several programs and extensions that do this. It sure is better than blocking completely, but might still make workers feel distrusted.

  10. Scutterman
    October 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    As much as I agree with the principal, I have to disagree with a couple of the points.

    1) 10 minutes out of every hour is 1/6 of your day. No matter how you look at it, that's a lot of time lost. I think 15 minutes every 3 or 4 hours is sufficient.

    2) Breaks are indeed very important, but they should be spent away from a computer. At a window or outside is the best places, allowing our eyes a break from the (often) poor lighting and screen glare, and getting some fresh air at the same time. I just need to get into the habit of applying this to my lunch break.

    But yeah, whenever I get that can't-work-any-more feeling, I do often find a quick check of the stream helps. Or a couple of minutes reading webcomics.

    • Yaara
      October 5, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Thanks for the comment Scutterman!

      10 minutes every hour might be excessive, you're right. Especially if they're ALL spent of Facebook. I meant people should take breaks in general. Facebook is just a good excuse for some people to do so.

      I also agree that breaks are MUCH better when not spent in front of the computer, but many people can't or won't do it, so a break for the mind is better than nothing.

      • Butch
        December 6, 2011 at 4:09 am

        Better take those cigarette breaks away. Most people who smoke use it to take a break outside of the office. 

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