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Surprising Science

The Highs and Lows of Intraoffice Social Networking

If managers are questioning the value of social networking on company time—because it’s just another profit-draining distraction—MIT and IBM Research have some news that could change their minds.

A study showed that workers at IBM who IM, share photos or friend their higher-ups generate $588 more per month on average. Though that sounds like a win-win reason to spend more time communicating with management, there are the pitfalls. Workers who communicate with their superiors can open the floodgates to a deluge of directives and suggestions. As Business Week reports, employees can face “conflicting demands from different managers” resulting in an organizational scenario where there are “too many cooks in the kitchen.”

Nevertheless, initiatives like IBM Research’s Center for Social Software are banking on increasing demand for companies requesting their own dedicated social networks. One such network is Lotus Connection, a program created in 2007 for organizations big and small spearheaded by Social Networking Product Manager Chris Lamb.

Lamb told Big Think the key advantages that dedicated platforms like Lotus have over traditional ones are privacy and security; integration with a company’s existing communications technologies; and efficiency by offering instant collaboration environments to complete a task. Wow. What’s a wired employee to do?


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