Keep Media Social – Water Cooler Rules

Monique Mahler | March 31, 2017

Work is supposed to be a place where we, well, work. And yet the world is a fairly social place. It used to be that employees would take their “breaks” at the water cooler, or in the famed restroom of Ally McBeall’s law offices (complete with Barry White in the background). These days, however, breaks are less scheduled and social interaction is only a click of a mouse away. So how can a company maintain productivity in light of the challenges of the social side of the internet?

Some companies lean towards the more rigorous and less flexible (and less risky) policies banning the use or even access to social media websites or other questionable internet domains. Others attempt to find a way to balance employees’ needs to stay connected with the world and legitimately remain productive while feeling empowered to take their mental “breaks” as needed. According to the folks at the Society for Human Resource Management as well as our friends at Managing Your HR, there are a few tips and techniques to keep in mind:

  • Be clear, consistent, and content-specific. Your company has every right to ensure that the internet and social media activities of its employees reflects the culture and values of the folks in charge. So make policies that address everything from how and when employees can and should reference their work to their personal lives. A good general rule is that if you wouldn’t say it in front of your boss, you shouldn’t be putting it out on social media. Because there is always a chance that a friend of a friend who knows your boss might just happen to be the one person who likes to share things he or she learned on their favorite website that morning.
  • Remember that funny is not a universal standard. If what you and your friends enjoy laughing at might be viewed by others as socially unacceptable, unprofessional, or simply downright rude and wrong, whether or not it is intended to be, it is possible to make not only yourself and your friends but your company look bad. So while humor can be okay, it has to be clean and professional.
  • Keeping things positive, taking the high road, and always being mindful that you never know who is sitting on the other side of a screen is a great concept to begin looking at social media use with for purposes of defining policies.
  • Maintaining confidentiality of critical information, both corporate and customer, needs to be a priority. So ensuring that the company has adequate safeguards in place is a company responsibility but not downloading or visiting sites with questionable material has to be an employee’s job.
  • Use the technology tools available to report on employee activities and monitor adherence to the policies as defined.

There can be a time and place for social behavior, even online, at work. But keeping work focused on the job at hand means having limits on the use and scope of social media.


About The Author

Monique Mahler is the CEO of interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.


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