Study: 30% of People are on Social Media at Work for One Hour Everyday

Posted on May 10th 2013

Study: 30% of People are on Social Media at Work for One Hour Everyday
A recent survey by staffing agency Intelligent Office found that one-third of workers use social media at work for at least an hour a day, and a quarter of respondents said they wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t allow them to use social media. With U.S. unemployment hovering just under 8%, this may well be the worst bluff ever (see video below), but the sentiment is real.
Based on the methodology of the study, it’s likely that those numbers aren’t accurate (I hope it’s okay that I didn’t preface that with “spoiler alert”). However, I do think that when one-third of one thousand people said they spend an hour on social everyday, and when 250 of those people say that they wouldn’t work for an employer that disallow social network use – something is bubbling under the surface.

Our affinity for social expression and consumption

A study late last year estimated that 75% of people access social media on their smartphones at work everyday. 67% of those people said that they used social at work multiple times a day. With more and more studies substantiating this behavior, it’s safe to assume that this is real. About half say that their social media use is business-related. About half say it is personal.

I don’t want to put too fine a point on this, so let’s just draw one conclusion from these studies: People like using social media. If you don’t buy into that premise, you’re not going to like what I say next.

Why don’t more businesses see this as an opportunity?

Here’s a fun social media statistic: there are studies that show anywhere from 10-40% of employers firewall social media sites from their employee’s computers (a lot of studies say different things). That’s not particularly relevant. I know the mindset that goes into social media prohibition. It’s the same type of workplace where you give verbal warnings followed by written warnings, followed by final warnings, and then termination. Where every minute is considered time that could be productively used to do X. Departments are probably siloed and work is probably orchestrated by some Svengali who dishes out an abundance of the aforementioned warnings. I’m exaggerating a bit, but sufficed to say that these places aren’t enjoyable places to work.

Now consider that every single person in that office has between 150-330 people accessible through social media (depending upon whether you listen to Dunbar, Granovetter or Wolfram). It’s not bad enough that some employees take away something that their employees enjoy (social media), but by failing to encourage it they’re losing marketing opportunities to the people who are likely to buy from them: weak ties.

I’m curious to know your take on this: are people excessive with their use of social media at work? How accurate do you believe these statistics to be?


Jim Dougherty

I write and shepherd content on Leaders West. I write about how smaller businesses can leverage social media to their advantage (and some other stuff).

Connect with me on Google+;

See Full Profile >