How social media is destroying productivity

Some companies have closed their networks to Facebook and other social media, in an attempt to keep employees focused on work during work hours. Some even restrict access to their email system for a few hours each day, acknowledging that email is a drain on productivity.

The good folks over at LearnStuff.com have made an infographic that illustrates how much time we use on social media. Does it look right to you? Do you think usage at universities might be even higher? Would it be understandable to try to change the behavior of students and faculty? How would you start doing that?

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  • Noriko Cable says:

    I agree that many people do spend on social media. However, we are taking advantages of social media to make impact of our work such as yourself. It is not all bad; it depends how we use it and how we prioritise our time.

    • Curt Rice says:

      I completely agree! But when I looked at this, I can certainly understand why some employers are concerned about the use of social media at work. And I’m sure universities are no exception when it comes to time spent in this way.

  • Christine Delphy says:

    “make impact of our work such as yourself.” ??? What does that mean ?

    • Curt Rice says:

      I understand it to mean that I am an example of a person who uses social media to create impact for my work. And I think that’s true. That’s where the interesting discussion is to be found, I think. How can we use social media in good ways, but still separate ourselves from it for significant periods during the day, when we instead focus on our non-virtual lives?

      • Jody Bourgeois says:

        To me, it also mean that I can read posts by people like Curt Rice during my work time because the pieces are constructive in terms of my own scholarship and teaching.

        • Noriko Cable says:

          What I meant there is researchers use social media to promote/advertise their own work. Even Institution has a facebook or twitter page, advertising their academic merit. So if universities worry about social media use of their employees, they have to initiate dialogue about it. Universities cannot discourage us using social media if they have a team of communicator using it extensively.

        • Curt Rice says:


  • Kelley Skillin says:

    I frequently use Facebook during work hours, as we have private groups set up for different faculty cohorts (based on the year they joined the university). I offer special events and giveaways for their cohort in order to create a more cohesive group. I also use it to give away items I have a limited number of (to the first person to comment on the post). Most of our younger faculty pay more attention to Facebook than an e-mail because they are inundated with e-mails from administrative offices. It increases our productivity and our ability to communicate with faculty in a way they prefer (joining the group is voluntary).

    • Curt Rice says:

      This sounds like a wonderful way to use Facebook on the job, Kelley. Kudos to you for coming up with such a good program. I love the idea of thinking of faculty cohorts and nurturing a sense of belonging and loyalty by building up a shared identity based on when one started working at the university. Wonderful! Have you written up a description of this project anywhere? I think you really should, because I’m sure others would get excited about it, too.
      Also, I’m probably not among the “younger faculty” anymore – at least if you’re assessing age instead of attitude! — but I also am much easier to reach on Facebook or Twitter. I’ve really come to despise email and I avoid it for days on end …

      • Kelley Skillin says:

        I presented initial thoughts about using cohorts in a larger presentation about how to implement workplace policies and programs across faculty generations at the College and University Work/Family Association Conference, held at the University of Michigan in May, 2012. I began the program in Fall 2011, so I’m waiting until the end of this year before drawing any conclusions (and thus, writing it up). But thank you for the feedback!

  • There’s no doubt social media can be a time suck, but want can take more time out of a worker’s day — nearly 2 hours of productivity some studies suggest — is email. But what if email were more social in nature? Sendgine @ http://goo.gl/ML3EA takes an idea, which is what every email starts with, and turns it into a train of thought where you can add people documents and other data. What’s nice about Sendgine is it’s ease of use too.

  • Tseen Khoo says:

    Interesting infographic, Curt. I agree with others above that the crucial part is HOW people are using social media during worktime, not just that they are. Additionally, it made me think about what an academic’s core activities are these days – what is necessary for a successful academic life? I would say a lot of it is connecting and discussing intellectual issues, finding ways to work with colleagues elsewhere, etc. Particularly when universities have less funding for conferences and collaborative meetings, social media can be a career-saver in terms of keeping you in the loop and well networked.

    For employees who use social media and disengage with their work/projects, is this not more of an issue of their work not being satisfying or important to them? Before social media, I’m sure disengaged/bored workers found many ways to be doing other things!

    • Curt Rice says:

      Thanks, Tseen. I do think academia is special in (at least) one way that is relevant here, that you touch on. For academics who do both teaching and research, it is most likely that they find themselves in a department built up around teaching needs rather than research needs. Because of this, their closest research collaborators are likely to be at other organizations, and that invites the use of online communications. On top of that, I’ve hardly heard of an academic who isn’t a net giver, rather than taker, of time from an employer. But for students, on the other hand, I think social media is (?are) a serious problem!

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