There is a new tool out that will supposedly help organisations understand the cost implications of Facebook in the workplace. The idea, from SpamTitan, is to help HR and IT people build a case to spend money on its web filtering software.

The company says its research shows that 76 % of customers feel under pressure to allow access to more Web 2.0 tools in the workplace.

The news release announcing the launch of the Facebook Cost Calculator cites a recent survey of 1,000 employees by MyJobGroup. The survey found that among those who use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace at work, one-third are spending more than 30 minutes a day and almost 6% spend more than an hour.

A quick test of the tool shows that a company with 100 employees spending an average of 20 minutes a day on Facebook costs the company more than £100k in lost productivity. Apparently this can be saved by investing about $1,000 in software licenses.

This Facebook cost calculator would be truly revolutionary if it accurately measured productivity loss and gains. But it doesn’t. Blocking Facebook or other online social networks in the workplace is not only a complete waste of time and effort, it’s pure folly.

Blocking is folly

Any company that thinks using blocking software stops people from using Facebook and Twitter is kidding itself. Just about everyone now owns a smart phone of some description and people will use them instead if they can’t access Facebook from the employer network. It’s a very simple work around.

In addition, there is the ‘baby and bathwater’ risk. Social networks have been proven to improve innovation, collaboration, education and communication — all crucial to the modern workforce and real time savers in the long-run. In addition, employees are the best brand ambassadors when it comes to communicating about their employers online. A recent Forrester Research study showed that almost half of a company’s workforce would strongly recommend their employer’s products and services online.

Workforce productivity has always been an important HR issue. By having effective policies and procedures in place to manage productivy and working to foster a positive company culture you can mitigate and risks of loss of productivity due to Facebook. At the same you will realise all the tremdous benefits these modern commications platforms afford.