Should Employers Ban Facebook?

Work Clinic: Facebook

Natalie Cooper, who blogs on The Work Clinic, one of our HR-related blogs, was interviewed on BBC radio last week about Facebook. Like so many internet phenomena, it's reached the level of conciousness amongst the general people that IT managers are starting to run around setting up systems to monitor usage, or even ban the site completely.

Natalie's position, like so many others, is "carefully restrict and monitor".

However, I can't help feeling that all of these decisions are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what and how Facebook can be used. For me, it's as much a work tool (keeping up with contacts within this whole web 2.0/online communities shebang) as it is a personal fun tool. Yet all the discussions I'm seeing in the more mainstream media are based on the assumption that Facebook activity is purely for personal fun. And I think that's a poor assumption to make.

And even if people aren't using it for any business purpose, surely existing management policies come into play? If it's distracting people so much that they don't perform as needed, then that needs to be handled like any management issue. Just because a problem is rooted in technology, it doesn't mean it needs a technological solution, especially where people management is concerned.