Ironically I am the CEO for a social media marketing company...

Social media and smart phones in the work place. I'm all for it but it's down to the individual to have discipline and respect in the work place to monitor their own usage. It can take one person to shift it all in one persons favour.

Social media is starting to go the reverse having focused so much of their time on smart phones the rise of desktop apps such as Whatsapp web are fast becoming the norm. It actually makes it quite difficult to bring these topics up simply because it's not as obvious as it used to be when devoting ones time to social media.

It is now not something you can address easily without accusing staff of something they might not have necessarily done. If you don't necessarily have any concrete information to back it up with. Such as the problem with the various mediums social media now presents itself with.

With the average person checking their phone up to 150 times a day and then add on the time it takes for that employee to regain their focus before the next message comes in is a real problem for small businesses.

I am keen to know good ways to address these common scenarios in the modern work place? From junior to senior level. Whether you have company policy or none whatsoever. How to keep everyone happy but also have a good work ethic.

  • 1
    Is performance in your organization actually suffering due to social media in the workplace? How do you know? Sep 26, 2016 at 12:22
  • 1
    @WorkerDrone Exactly my point. Yes it is, but very difficult to prove. Performance is suffering but I can't be 100% sure it's down to social media, there are a few factors
    – Statadd50
    Sep 26, 2016 at 12:39
  • 4
    How do you know performance is suffering? What measures tell you this? Sep 26, 2016 at 13:18
  • My hunches: Are employees generally, worldwide, less productive nowadays due to social media? Yes. Can you buck that trend without causing massive employee dissatisfaction? No. Apr 27, 2019 at 6:30

3 Answers 3


First, have clear metrics to determine productivity. If you don't know whether or not this is a problem, you can't address it, or know if you even should

If, in your examination, it is a problem then have a clear policy about smartphone use: Outline when and where is appropriate with consequences to violations.

Here's my idea for a simple policy"

At your desk, phone use is for phone calls only, for any other use, you must leave your desk. This sounds counter intuitive, but you will immediately address the complaint of "What if there is a family emergency?" Answer: Have them call or leave your desk to handle it.

This "leave your desk" policy is going to make them aware or their use, which in and of itself will curb the behavior. Checking SM has become so habitual, that people do not even realize they are doing it.

Think of it as the equivalent of having a bag of chips with you while you're watching a movie. That bag of chips is going to be gone by the time the movie is over. If you had to pause the movie, get up, and go into another room to get more chips and eat them there, you would eat fewer chips as you would be actively thinking about it.

The brilliance of this policy is that you wouldn't be banning the behavior, you would just restore awareness of it. A person is simply not going to get up from their desk to check their social media 150 times a day.

Have clear guidelines, and get people used to it. The problem people are going to become obvious if they don't follow the policy, and you can begin to address it at that point, but I doubt you will have to. Simply making checking social media a metacognitive, as opposed to the absent-minded checking people do now should correct the majority of the problem.

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    @Statadd50 Often, just reminding people of what they are doing is enough. Sep 27, 2016 at 18:54

Productivity has always been challenged by things people would rather do. Whether it's taking too many breaks, or taking 30 minute breaks when company policy is 10, long lunches, reading at the desk, chatting with coworkers for an hour or more about the football game, personal phone calls - the 4 decades I've been working I've seen lots of things people would rather do than work.

Trying to solve the problem by banning or limiting the specific activities just gets people's backs up. It doesn't improve productivity. Two things will. First, you want people to enjoy their work. This is done partly by having an atmosphere that people feel no need to escape from, accomplishments people enjoy reaching, and the like. It is also done by arranging for those who clearly don't like their work at all and would rather spend their time any other way as long as they get paid, to take that attitude elsewhere. (The firings will continue until morale improves, the old joke goes.) Second, you want people to understand that what they get done in a day matters. That someone is paying attention and cares what they achieve. I don't know the specifics of your business, and you don't want to become entirely metrics-focused, but if you're concerned productivity is not what it could be, then you have some way of measuring what gets done. If some people aren't accomplishing enough, tell them you want them to accomplish more. A grown adult can figure out for themselves whether cutting back on the Twitter / CandyCrush / WhatsApp during business hours is the easiest way to do that. Don't offend them by passing along that tip.

We used to tell our people - if your manager has already noticed what time you arrive and leave each day, you already have a problem. It means someone has noticed you don't get enough done and is wondering if spending the full working day at the desk would be a quick cure for it (I have had people shave as much as an hour off every working day thinking no-one would notice.) Whether in fact you're working full days or not, once I take the time to check, that's a sign I'm not happy with what I'm getting from you. The same applies to the much-harder-to-check phone use. Concentrate on what you want from them and don't micromanage what they need to stop doing to get there.

  • thank you for the comprehensive answer. The problem is actually with a fellow shareholder but it is something I want to implement across the company as part of the day to day. The company brand instils fun, flexibility, a strong worth ethic and a sense of ownership so I would be doing the opposite if I were to go against that and ban such things as Social Media. Sound advice and I will be taking a combined approach.
    – Statadd50
    Sep 28, 2016 at 11:05

The one key take-away I got from your post is "Is any system monitoring if the work assigned to be done by employees is being done on a timely basis?".

Now I'm not saying that you need to always keep staff busy, but I think visible improvements in accountability and responsibility, including for example via a ticketing system or even a Kanban board will do wonders for the overall productivity of your staff.

This doesn't mean your staff isn't on social media sites, but that when they are there's an easily-accessible visible reminder of what work they should've been doing.

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