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Most bosses monitor or block social-network use at work

Didn't get where they are today fooling about on Web 2.0

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Viruses, loss of confidential data and fear of employees tooling around doing sweet FA on Twitter are the top reasons that employers give for putting the brakes on social media in the workplace. And it's stopping them benefiting from new collaborative technologies, says ClearSwift Research.

The company surveyed 1,529 employees and 906 managers in companies across the world about social media in the office. The survey found that 60 per cent of employers worried that giving their employees free access to Web 2.0 would bring in viruses and worms, 49 per cent feared the loss of confidential data through employee carelessness, or hacking (45 per cent), while many also worried that it had a negative impact on productivity (40 per cent) and posed a threat of reputational damage if used inappropriately (37 per cent).

Overall, 91 per cent of UK companies said that concerns about security and data loss were preventing technology adoption.

ClearSwift – an information-security company – stated that this caution was holding companies back from the "significant" advantages of social media. According to the survey-slingers, these include: improving internal communication, making employees happy, keeping people up to date with new information and improving contact with clients.

"Successful use of 'Web 2.0' is still seen as critical to future success by both groups, and there is ongoing investment in this area," the report stated. "Technology adoption is, however, being hampered by security concerns, with high-profile data loss incidents generating scepticism about new collaboration technologies."

To keep tabs on staff internet use, employers used a range of tactics: 71 per cent issued a best practice policy on internet use, 68 per cent said they monitored employee internet activity and 56 per cent went the whole hog and blocked access to certain social networking sites in the workplace.

However the survey suggested that blocking or clamping down on social media made staff twitchy and sad:

"[Employees] feel disconnected from the risks of Web 2.0 – they have little sense of what they are being protected from, and therefore respond negatively to monitoring and security measures. Since they see little rationale for blocking and monitoring, they are likely to disconnect from their employers if policies are perceived as unreasonable."

Young employees in particular found social media bans at work difficult to deal with: only 35 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 44 per cent of 25-34-year-olds would happily stay at a job if they found their employer's social media policy too restrictive.

Forty-three percent of companies had actually experienced a security incident resulting from internet use. ®

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