Good news: Facebook can make you more productive

wbnCompanies that restrict or limit employees’ ability to use social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter during work hours are understandably trying to reduce distraction that results in waste and inefficiency. As studies have shown, however, such policies turn out to be counterproductive, because workers who surf the Internet or use social media for reasonable amounts of time while at work are generally more productive and effective.

Now let me be honest: This is a finding which I’ve enthusiastically pounced on as a way of justifying my social media habits while at work. The fact is that there are still many days when I would be more productive if I spent less time on these sites and more time in focused, extended stretches of work. But this is something I’m conscious of and getting better at, so with that admission aside, I’d like to share below how Matt Perman puts this in his excellent and wonderfully practical What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014). I especially like what he says about how having and using online networks can help workers in today’s “knowledge economy.”

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“For self-motivated people, time spent on Facebook is actually productive. It is productive for building networks and spreading truth. Both of these build people up, and thus increase productive capacity.

“Research bears this out by showing that employees with extensive online networks (such as through Facebook, LinkedIn, and so forth) are actually more productive than those without them.

“Facebook and other online networks and interaction help us refine, spread, and gain ideas. These are three core competencies in the era of knowledge work” (249-250).

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2 comments

  1. Caro

    Completely depends on what kind of content environment we have immersed ourselves in. If your feed is full of cat memes and mindless videos, I don’t think you could argue that the intake and sharing of that content would make us refined or competent.

    • Javier

      Thanks for commenting! So I understand what you mean, and I would also argue that on a basic level, certain kinds of engagement and content sharing are more productive than others, but at the same time, studies have shown that even “mindless” time spent surfing the net (e.g. watching baby goats skip around the living room) can provide the kind of mental rest and recreation that aids, rather than hinders, creativity.

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