Many companies understand the benefits of connecting and building better relationships with their customers. Technology is driving such connections from the traditions of face-to-face and is the driving force igniting much of this activity online. Many companies have grown into understanding the power of the trend, the value of its connections, and the wealth of information available through the collaboration of new ideas and perspectives. However, many managers are still faced with the dilemma and decision to either allow or ban the use of social networks while at work. There common fear among management is that employees will use that time unproductively or worse.

According to an article published by Post and Courier writer, Cindy Krischer Goodman, Max Borges, owner of a Miami agency that provides marketing to electronic and technology manufacturers, says he’s wise enough to know his employees are going to be on Facebook or blogs whether or not he bans them. So instead he held a meeting and taught his workers about privacy settings and etiquette around social networks. I think the way to go is to talk openly about expectations, respectful conduct and productivity.”

On the other hand, many traditional companies have chosen to ban and block employees from accessing social networking sites, where others have granted access and monitor the activity.

Attempts to completely ban access to social networking sites and activity while at work is not a full proof solution. With many employees having access to Smartphones, most are still able to access the sites while at work.

According to James Pedderson at Challenger, Gray & Christmas “believes that because work duties and personal lives have become blurred, most employers look the other way, unless it becomes a problem. They realize they are asking a lot of their workers, so as long as productivity is not falling off, they’re not going to bust their chops.”

Klososky, author of Enterprise Social Technology, stated “companies are just beginning to understand how big an issue this will become. Their young workers are digital natives. They’ve grown up with social networks and see them as tools. When those tools are blocked, they don’t want to work for that company.”

As a best practice in business, when making the decision on whether management should ban or allow access to social media sites at work, management should consider both the potential positive and negative effects and base the decision on the best interest of the company. What social networking policies or resources can they enforce to limit revenue loss due to decreased productivity, reputation damage due to inappropriate activity, and what expenses will the company incur as a result of such activity.