Social Media Complicates Work-Life Balance: eMarketer

Social activities blur personal and professional

MARCH 9, 2010 – Social media usage has soared not just among the general population but also among at-work Internet users, who are heading to the sites for both personal and professional reasons in greater numbers.

“The Collaborative Internet” report from Internet security firm FaceTime Communications found increases in the proportion of at-work Web users worldwide logging on to each network studied. LinkedIn was the top site for professional social networking in 2009, followed by Twitter, which was used by more than three-quarters of respondents for work reasons.

The top reasons users gave for using social sites at work were professional networking with colleagues (79%), learning about colleagues (66%), and general research (61%). A comparatively low 37% were logging on to social sites for the more specialized function of marketing to customers.

Overall, FaceTime found 95% of at-work Internet users headed to social sites during the work day for either personal or professional reasons, 61% did so at least once daily, and 15% said they were on the networks “constantly throughout the day.”

But another survey, from Liberty Mutual, suggests that users are sending some mixed messages regarding at-work social networking. Nearly three-quarters said it was unacceptable to check Facebook unrelated to work, though FaceTime found more than nine in 10 respondents doing so.

Two-thirds of US Internet users polled by Liberty Mutual saw no problem with checking personal e-mail on the clock.

Social media can create complications when it comes to friending colleagues and supervisors, another issue raised by such sites, which blur boundaries because of their usefulness both at home and on the job.

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