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Survey shows extent of potential productivity losses of social networking users.

Sophos : 29 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
Up to 20% of social networking users could be creating significant productivity problems for their employers according to a survey carried out by Sophos.
IT security and control firm Sophos has revealed the results of a new survey examining the potential productivity implications for businesses that allow their employees to access Facebook during office hours.

Sophos polled 500 Facebook users to find out how often they accessed or checked the popular social networking site from work, and found that while 37.2 percent only visited the site once or twice a day, eight percent admitted using it up to ten times a day, and an astonishing 14.8 percent, approximately one in seven, confessed to being logged onto Facebook almost permanently during their working day.

The full survey results are as follows:

How often do you access or check Facebook from work?

Once or twice a day - 37.2%
Up to ten times a day - 8%
Virtually all the time! - 14.8%
I only access Facebook from home, never at work - 40%

500 respondents, Sept & Oct 07

'The results show that more than one fifth of these Facebook users are actually Facebook abusers. They're seriously struggling to tear themselves away from the website when they should be concentrating on their jobs - disturbing news for all organisations that are still allowing employees uncontrolled access,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. 'Several trade unions have spoken out in the site's defence, suggesting that employers should put more trust in their workforce, and clearly the majority of people are using the site in moderation. The problem is that a 20 percent addiction rate equates to an awful lot of loafing, while there's also the likelihood that the abusers could ruin it for the other rule-abiding users.'

According to Sophos, the survey results add weight to growing fears that sites such as Facebook are having a hugely detrimental impact on business productivity. Employment law firm Peninsula recently estimated that 233 million hours are lost every month in the UK alone as a result of employees using social networking sites. Sophos notes that Lloyds TSB, Credit Suisse, Transport for London and Kent County Council are amongst the organisations that have been reported to have already blocked access to Facebook for their users.

'So far there seems to have been a furore at every organisation that has decided to block Facebook access, but there's a real danger that if companies don't take action, this problem could spiral further out of control,' continued Cluley. 'Many companies are now aware that Facebook brings with it a series of security concerns, particularly the risk of employees inadvertently revealing sensitive or confidential information to the wider world. When combined with the threat of an accompanying productivity slump, they may well decide that social-networking at work is simply more trouble than it's worth.'

Sophos continues to recommend computer users practise safe computing, as well as running a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.
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