Poking and sharing in the workplace?

The seemingly unstoppable rise of social networking means more and more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and embracing social media to promote their products and services in ways traditional methods can’t match.

And yet, our latest research reveals that as many as two-in-three UK employees believe social networking should be banned from the workplace.

As big fans of Facebook, Twitter and other social media ourselves, we were surprised by what we found.

The study, which collected results from 4,245 workers from around the UK, showed that just 29% connect on Facebook, 13% use business social network LinkedIn, and just 9% keep on top of trends on Twitter during work hours.

Of those who do use social media at work, one-in-three use it for business purposes only, half use it for both personal and business requirements, while the other 10% admit it’s just to keep in touch with friends and family.

And, when it comes to keeping tabs on Twitter or updating a Facebook status, mobile takes the lead: 60% of UK employees opt to use their phone over a work computer.

The research also revealed that one-in-four businesses have banned employees from browsing social networking sites during work hours. Whilst 40& do allow access, it’s almost always permitted for business purposes only.

But social networks aren’t just about likes and pokes, they have an increasingly important role in business and in career development.

Used in the right way, social networks offer a powerful platform for engaging with new customers, strengthening client relationships and gathering information.

The participatory nature of Twitter and Facebook also makes them excellent tools for supercharging creativity in the workplace – and your job hunt.

Facebook and Twitter are here to stay, and for many, they’ve become the prominent form of communication. Employers should set out their policy on using social media in the workplace, otherwise they risk missing out on commercial opportunities, as well as an unhappy workforce.