The social media rules…for work

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Are you one of those people who are logged onto Facebook 24/7 or get withdrawal symptoms if you can’t sum up every chunk of your day into 140 characters? If so the chances are that your social media use could be interfering with your work life. As it is a New Year make a fresh start and follow these simple rules to help maintain healthy boundaries between your work and personal life.

Healthy limits

Being permanently logged into your Facebook or Twitter account can stop you working as efficiently, or as effectively, as you would if you knew that you couldn’t log on. For some people this has become such a continuous distraction that they have bought software to install on their computer which blocks them from logging onto these sites during certain hours – mainly when they should be working but with increasing use of smart phones and mobile devices we can log an anytime and anywhere.

The social networking world is constantly updating and many people feel as though they are missing out if they don’t log on regularly. Instead, limit it to lunchtimes and after work if you don’t want your habit to jeopardise your career – you will also be able to concentrate better if your phone isn’t constantly blinking at you with new messages and status updates.

Company policy

All companies are aware of how much time and attention they can lose when employees are conducting their personal lives on company time – if you are also doing it on company computers it is possible for them to monitor your online activity and it could result in disciplinary procedures.

Almost without exception employers will have a policy governing use of social networks when you are at work – make sure you read it and adhere to it even if it seems overly restrictive.

When you have just started dating someone you really connect with it’s natural to want to be in touch 24/7 but it is much better to delay gratification until such a time as you can use your own internet than to risk getting caught doing it on company time. Your date is sure to respect your integrity.

Complaining about work

The line between home and work life has become increasingly blurred and it is not just use of social media on work time or company equipment that can land you in hot water – what you post from the comfort of your own home can also have repercussions at work.

It’s common sense not to slate your employers on these sites. Even though we all like to grumble about work to our friends, the internet is not the place to do it. Neither should you disclose confidential information; make fun of your employers; befriend rival companies or post anything that could be seen to be damaging or derogatory to your employers. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you – people have been sacked for all of these actions.

Read your company’s social networking guidelines very carefully – there is probably a lot more to it than just not logging on at work. Employers are keen to protect their reputation and will scour social networking sites for any mention of them or their products – this is a public, not a private forum. Even if your privacy settings mean only your friends see your postings there is still a chance things could come to the attention of your employers.

Clear boundaries between work and home

Even though you may spend the majority of your waking hours in your workplace, and probably spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your family, it is important to maintain a very clear distinction between work and home life.

Only use social media for your private life and avoid using it to post photos of colleagues or details of situations at work. Many people even decline ‘friend’ invitations from work colleagues because they want their social media sites to be private – accepting someone as a ‘friend’ or ‘following’ them is a bit like inviting them into your home and letting them have access to your private thoughts, actions and all your family photographs – do you want your work colleagues to be that close?

Log off completely sometimes

One final way that social media sites – and internet use in general – can affect your work performance is through extended use – logging on when you get home and staying online right up until you go to bed. Research is beginning to find a correlation between the use of smart phones & laptops and insomnia, and it is suggested that you log off at least 60 minutes before you go to bed. This will help to ensure you need less REM (dreaming and information processing) sleep and have deeper sleep which helps you feel fully refreshed, and ready for work the next day.


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