Calling social media sites a "productivity black hole," the UK IT services group Morse said that staff who use Twitter and other social networking sites while at work are costing UK businesses £1.38bn every year, according to the BBC.

More than half those surveyed said they used social networking sites during the working day for personal use, with the average being 40 minutes per week on these sites. While this doesn't sound like much, it adds up to almost a week a year, Morse said.

Other responses from the study, which surveyed 1,460 people:

  • More than three-quarters of respondents said their employer had not given them specific guidelines with regards to using Twitter.
  • A third of workers said they had seen sensitive information posted on social networks.
  • 84 percent said they felt it should be up to them what they posted online.

Great! They caught on! Now i'm gonna have to go back to solitaire :( Seriously though.. that's a lot of wasted time and money. Sounds like they need to put some restrictions in place - ie. declaring specific guidelines (as you mentioned), install monitoring software, block the sites, and wait for the lazy employees to weed themselves out. :P

I personally think that the use of social media during work hours is just another example on how "procastination" behavior has shifted from talk at the water cooler to solitaire to social media (and trackable) distraction. What will be next?

I have to work with a lot of people who are smart-butt enough to fall under that first bullet point.

The problem with what is going on in the UK is what is endemic with so many companies in the US, they see a popular activity that can affect the productivity of workers and instead of getting out ahead of the problem they wait until the problem is enormous and then complain when it costs something. Now they will do something and it will be rushed and not well thought out and will result in more problems.

This is what happened with sexual harrassment. My career began in the mid-80s and the conversations at work were so over the top yet management looked the other way because people were productive (probably what was happening a few months ago before the more addictive personalities in the work-force became obsessed with Tweeting and updating their FB profile). Then it got so out of control that companies were sued and had to create such onerous guidelines that if a man compliments a woman on her boots and asks where she got them so he could tell his wife and he is charged with sexual harrassment. And if you think I am kidding with the example, it happened to a friend and co-worker and I overheard the whole exchange.