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UK employees more likely to defy office bans on social media

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The report reveals that 40 per cent European office workers are banned from using Facebook at work, or have restricted access to it. Despite this fact, 41 per cent of UK employees who know their companies restrict Facebook defy their employers by using it at work. 

Similar proportions admitted to using cloud storage apps, messaging and telephony apps, video streaming services and Twitter at work. These employees either ignored workplace bans, or used their own technology to overcome work-imposed restrictions.

In the UK, millennials aged 18–34 were most likely to defy corporate restrictions on access to websites and applications, being almost twice as likely to disobey compared to the average across all age groups. The research found that almost half admitted to ignoring or circumventing workplace bans on Facebook (52 per cent) and video streaming sites such as YouTube.

Hospitality businesses are most likely to restrict or ban Facebook (57 per cent), yet had the second most disobedient employees, with 38 per cent of workers saying that they use it anyway. Workers in the property industry were the most likely to ignore corporate Internet policy to visit social media sites, with 46 per cent of employees defying workplace bans on Facebook.

It is suggested that corporate restrictions on internet use are fuelling by a ‘trust gap’. This lack of trust is revealed in the finding that only 51 per cent of all workers said that their employers gave them freedom to use technology as they wish, and treated them as if they had good knowledge of technology. Some 17 per cent said that their employers assume that they have very little technology knowledge and impose extreme restrictions on technology.

Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, consumer and business psychologist at University College London, said: “From a security point of view, it’s perfectly natural that employers should want to control their employees’ use of technology. If, however, they also neglect the contemporary needs of their workforce they may face reductions in employee productivity and engagement. The days when employees would simply follow the rules without questioning them are truly behind us. Trust, clear communication and meaningful frameworks are far more effective at facilitating constructive behaviour – both at work and at play.

“Banning technologies and websites in the workplace often has the opposite effect to that intended, as this study shows. Real trust must be mutual. Organisations are far better off observing how employees are working, and then finding ways to make this behaviour compatible with the workplace.”

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