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Social Networking: The New Workplace Smoke Break

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the friend-em-if-you-got-em dept.

Social Networks 105

snydeq writes "J. Peter Bruzzese sees a solution for organizations seeking to cut down employee time spent on social networks at work: treat social networking like a smoke break. 'Try as you might to keep social networks at bay, mobile devices let people be in constant connection to their social networking vices over the cellular networks, which you can't block. Still, it's not completely impossible to stop social time-wasting over mobile: You can establish policies that, if enforced strongly enough, eliminate social networks from being accessed on company time. Treat it like smoking: Let employees take a 15-minute coffee/smoking/Facebook break and make them go to a designated area to do it.'"

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I'm using my 15 minutes to make a (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038063)

first post!

Re:I'm using my 15 minutes to make a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039499)

Poke

Re:I'm using my 15 minutes to make a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039969)

If you are referring to 15 minutes of fame, you posted as AC - FAIL. Anonymous has already had their 15 minutes. If you are referring simply to 15 minutes of your time, then you are very slow.

Re:I'm using my 15 minutes to make a (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046001)

They used to call them "coffee breaks" back when it was acceptable to smoke damned near everywhere. When I was in college you could smoke in class! But folks still got breaks at work.

I had one job where they were afraid of ruining IT equipment by getting stuff spilled on it, so you could smoke at your desk but not drink coffee. Now it's the other way around.

So - the smokers get double breaks? (5, Funny)

DontScotty (978874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038087)

So - the smokers get double breaks?

Since, they will be smoking while using the social media - that's multi-tasking. Like, 30 minutes worth of break time in 15 minutes.

Not fair to those with untainted lungs!

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (2)

bubblejet (957207) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038217)

Don't forget bathroom breaks. Just knock out the smoke detector and you can get *triple* breaks!

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40043351)

You get smoke breaks, social network breaks, lunch breaks, and bathroom breaks where you work? I am barely allowed to sit idle for more than 30 seconds and if one minute past break allotment time a verbal warning is received. I have to get back to sharpening my pencil in anticipation of a blood-letting at dusk. ;)

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (4, Insightful)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038581)

I think I'd rather have two cigarettes than indulge in the mindless banality of Facebook.

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038805)

Me too, and I don't smoke.

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039871)

I think I'd rather have two cigarettes than indulge in the mindless banality of Facebook.

Same here....and with a smoke break, it gives me a great excuse to get up from my desk, step outside, get a bit of fresh air...and be sociable with all the other people out there on a smoke break.

Neat way to get in on work gossip and hear things going on...lots of higher level people out there smoking too, and can overhear things they're saying.

I've missed all that when I quit smoking for a month or so periodically.

Smokers get double-speak? (2)

BetterThanCaesar (625636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040137)

Getting fresh air by inhaling smoke. War is peace.

Re:Smokers get double-speak? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042847)

Getting fresh air by inhaling smoke. War is peace.

Ok..haha...how bout "getting a little sunshine, and getting away from the keyboard to let your mind think/relax....and if nothing else, and excuse to get up and not sit on your ass all day....walk around a bit, and then there still is the social aspect of it.

Rubbing elbows with the bosses while out there never hurts....and talking with other people in other groups, etc...

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040759)

Smokers == weak mind loosers and slaves to the cig.

Smoke weed instead,

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#40045347)

What you don't want to spend your break finding out what your second cousin's best friend found funny the other day? Shame on you.

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (4, Funny)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038653)

It was only a matter of time before we discovered that facebook caused cancer, in fairness.

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038815)

I have the power! I have the ferocity!

Re:So - the smokers get double breaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039031)

I'm pretty sure that the Daily Mail has already run that headline...

It's not a "right" (-1, Flamebait)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038093)

You want to smoke your time away on Facebook? Umm ok... but if your co-workers don't see you in the office the following day, chances are you've been fired for slacking off. Several client businesses of mine have stated a zero tolerance for slacking off unless it's on your lunch break time. Management knows how addicting social media websites can be for some people.

Re:It's not a "right" (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038135)

Management doesn't know shit. Taking short breaks isn't slacking off, and studies have shown that such breaks improve worker productivity.

Management's problem is that it sees everything through a veil of pie charts and graphs, and if someone spends five minutes looking at pictures of their kids on Facebook, it must mean 0.2058% less revenue. Gotta fret over those graphs and spreadsheets.

Also, yeeeaah, can you come in on Sunday, too? We lost some people and need to catch up. Thaaaanks.

Re:It's not a "right" (5, Insightful)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038239)

Furthermore, where is the line drawn? Should we fire the guy who takes too many bathroom breaks? How about the woman who walks around to stretch her legs?

Instead of worrying about what employees are doing with their time at work, the focus should be on how much work employees get done. Who's the better employee, the guy who works 9 to 5 or the guy who works 8 to 6? What if the guy who works 9 to 5 doesn't take a break but the guy who works 8-6 spends 4 hours playing games online? And on top of that, what if 9-5 guy finishes one project a day while 8-6 finishes 3? The guy who meets his deadlines and accomplishes things is the guy you want, regardless of whether he's taking smoke breaks, playing games, or spending time on social media sites (assuming he isn't distracting other workers, a health risk, etc., etc.).

Re:It's not a "right" (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038449)

What about the slack executive that is incompetent at his job and got promoted by being a skilled psychopath. They can't do their job properly so they will take the easiest measures and that includes just firing 15% of the workforce at random to keep the rest on toes. Instil fear in the workers as the psychopath strolls around deciding who at random they will fire and what lies they will make up for the firing.

Re:It's not a "right" (2)

StylishGuy (2642001) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038575)

I think it would be good to move from salary to commission and/or contractor based structure instead of fixed salary. I've been living on such for the last 5 years. I get no fixed salary, I get paid exactly for what I do. I think it's more honest too, and of course, if you are good you get paid more than what your salary might be.

Then we also don't have problems with breaks - if you feel like you can do good work, but need a break - sure. Your work is paid by your performance anyway, so feel free to do what you want.

Re:It's not a "right" (5, Insightful)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039135)

The core problem, of course, is that many workplaces (particularly offices) have no adequate way to measure employee productivity and thus use "time spent staring at your desk at a VDU" or similar as a surrogate indicator of performance.

The most productive people I know are the ones who regularly take short breaks. Even when we're in the middle of a crisis, our bosses will insist on us taking short breaks, and as an ex-smoker I still take fag breaks - you'd be amazed how many eureka* moments you can get whilst standing outside the office looking at a flower bed or waiting in line for a coffee wondering what the difference between two roasts is.

Just like too much coffee can ruin your concentration, staying on the same problem for too long frequently makes you blind to the actual solution.

* itself, of course, a term coined when the frustrated Archimedes took a break from trying to solve his problem.

Re:It's not a "right" (4, Interesting)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039693)

That's always been a problem historically, at least in the tech/computer industry, and I suspect others as well.

The PHB's have no metrics to evaluate the people and technologies that they control but do not understand. So, they use the only yardstick they have at their disposal - judging people by their employee skills; i.e. showing up to work on time, not taking excessive breaks, etc.

Kind of sucks, but it's been that way as long as I can remember, probably longer (and I'm 50...).

Re:It's not a "right" (2)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040497)

The core problem, of course, is that many workplaces (particularly offices) have no adequate way to measure employee productivity and thus use "time spent staring at your desk at a VDU" or similar as a surrogate indicator of performance.
That is certainly true in professional environment. Where I work, the developers are often slammed for missing deadlines on projects, which is the only indicator of performance. What is missed is how much time the developers spend assisting the production side of the house. This is often missed because the production side of the house just e-mails, IMs or comes and drags the developers into the problem, so there is no tracking of the issue and no proof of what is going on. We have tried putting out foot down and saying "no work without a bug ticket", but they said "we don't have time to write up bug tickets" and management was sympathetic to them. So either we have to also enter the bug tickets, wasting additional of our time, or just waste as little of our time as possible by assisting them without a bug ticket.
Now, the production side of the house has plenty of measurement tools in place. They are able to tell that in, generally speaking, people who don't participate in social networking are able to get much more work done than people who do participate in social networking. They actually shut down facebook because the discrepancy was so bad. People who smoke also get less work done over the course of a day. People who smoke and do social networking get the least work done of all. I have long argued that we should do away with the stick approach and go with the carrot approach. In other words, instead of taking away facebook and giving people a hard time for not meeting their quota, instead monetize their performance. Pay them more when they get more done. Make sure they get minimum wage (or fire them if they don't meet the minimum), but pay them per item completed. In our production area, we have the tools to do that. Management does not like that approach. I find this odd because they are all pretty right leaning republicans, so I would think that they would prefer this over the socialist everyone-paid-the-same-and must-do-the-same-work principal.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047021)

Rightists don't like capitalism if it means they have to pay workers.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040599)

Some people actually expect those eureka moments, not only on break, but all the time.

http://danielsadventure.info/247/ [danielsadventure.info]

Captcha: "vibrator"

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039753)

Not all jobs can measure productivity in such simple ways. And some jobs require people present at certain times and schedule based on that - Call centers come to mind for this. Working as an usher at a movie theater, I was required to be present and working at certain time periods.

also high over time leads to more errors (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040061)

also high over time leads to more errors that can end taking more time over all to fix then it is to just work 40H weeks.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040129)

Yes, and I've seen this same attitude used to justify many a "genius" programmer who tend turn up to work at 2pm, work for a few hours, then go home. And then don't come in for a couple of days.

I, on the other hand, work 9 to 5 and strive to write maintainable code - generally doing the kind of maintenance the "genius" is too smart for, or they are busy writing a "framework" no one asked for, or replacing Postgres with MongoDB (where it's not needed). Then I get the prevelige of maintaining *that* project when they move on to the next thing they find interesting.

Rinse and repeat.

Give me the diligent, hard-worker any day of the week.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 2 years ago | (#40041183)

I, on the other hand,

am an idiot, because I

work 9 to 5

doing the kind of maintenance the "genius" is too smart for

so the "genius" doesn't get exposed as incompetent.

Give me the

masochistic,

hard-worker any day of the week.

There I fixed that for you. >;->

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

registrations_suck (1075251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042305)

That would be correct - except that the guy taking smoke breaks is going to smell like smoke....and I don't want to have to smell that all day, no matter HOW productive he is. For this reason, I do not hire smokers at my company.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046941)

And just how big is your "company" ?

Agreed. However... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038323)

Social Networking can be very addictive. I've seen people lose their jobs for precisely this reason.
You can see the addicts every day.
  They are the ones who in past years couldn't stop texting(SMS) during the morning commute.
  Now they are posting on Facebook or Twatter.
  I know of at least two who won't use the Subway because they are 'off the network' for anything up to 40 minutes at a time. They take the bus (Several) or the Train.

Sad really but a fact of life.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038569)

Management doesn't give a crap about productivity, never has, grow up.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038891)

They need to grow up for thinking management SHOULD care about productivity? No. The management needs to grow up so that they DO care about it.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039733)

It does, but only as it relates to the bottom line.

Low productivity = Low bottom line = Management bitched out by upper Management (or company goes bust)

So, yeah, they do, but only to the extent it keeps their asses covered (or in business).

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039989)

This is pretty much all the answer anyone needs right here. The reason why things like this become memes in the first place is because it's invariably true. Even good people, that swear they're going to be "different" when they break into management, often find themselves broken down by the machine and become no different than the other PHBs before too long.

It's really no different than politics, really. Everyone has lofty goals when they get into politics, but after a few years, they're playing the back-scratching games and getting involved in the under-handed bullshit, too, just like everyone else. Show me a modern day Cato, or Cincinnatus, that is able to achieve any real sort of power and I do believe I may soil myself.

i for one (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038629)

welcome our new slashdot corporatist overlords.

How about manual labour? (2)

TwentyCharsIsNotEnou (1255582) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038901)

I completely agree with this - in a "cubicle" style work environment.

But in manual labour, customer service, etc. regular slacking off could have a measurable effect - and creating a structure to allow people short breaks instead could be the answer.

(Think how pissed off you'd get if you had to wait even 20 seconds for a cashier to finish replying on Facebook before serving you.)

Re:How about manual labour? (1)

registrations_suck (1075251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042357)

It would never happen. I'd drop my stuff on the counter and leave long before then.

Re:How about manual labour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40043687)

(Think how pissed off you'd get if you had to wait even 20 seconds for a cashier to finish replying on Facebook before serving you.)

What if there are no customers in the queue waiting to be served? Should the cashier just stand there at the ready in a heightened state of attentiveness waiting for the next customer? That high alert state can be very draining and lead to severe health problems in the short term and long term.

Re:It's not a "right" (3, Insightful)

Zaph0dB (971927) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038941)

Actually, short breaks _don't_ improve productivity. Latest study (Harvard Business Review - http://hbr.org/2012/05/coffee-breaks-dont-boost-productivity-after-all/ar/1 [hbr.org] - _do_ sign up and read the whole article, don't just read the headline) shows that productivity is, at best, indifferent to micro breaks and at worst, reduced significantly. Those breaks _do_ have some effect on the stress level of the employee, but that's not of the employer _immediate_ concern (though long-term employers should factor this into their calculations). Numbers and cases, or it isn't science. (oh, and 5 minutes of an 8 hours day is ~1%, not 0.2%).

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043349)

Actually, short breaks _don't_ improve productivity. Latest study (Harvard Business Review - http://hbr.org/2012/05/coffee-breaks-dont-boost-productivity-after-all/ar/1 [hbr.org] - _do_ sign up and read the whole article, don't just read the headline) shows that productivity is, at best, indifferent to micro breaks and at worst, reduced significantly.

How about both sides in this debate stop assuming all workers are the same. Some need short breaks and others are able to sit and stare at a problem to make progress. PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT. Stop grouping.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039761)

nah people will do less - you set the official level at 5 mins realistically it is going to be 10, you set it at 10 - realistically it is going to be 15 mins. People will be happy not because of the break but because they think they are getting (away) with something extra and hopefully owe u back with greater productivity. Downside is negativity from lack of enforcement/consistency but people tend to be so self focussed these days it doesn't become topical.

what would really be useful is something to disrupt mobile devices (or at least 3g connectivity so they still have calls in an emergency).

what about time wasted in meetings? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040069)

what about time wasted in meetings ?

Re:what about time wasted in meetings? (1)

registrations_suck (1075251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042373)

Two people in the cube next to me (a manager and his employee) have been discussing which bike trail to take to work for the last 20 minutes.....and they're still at it.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40043545)

Gotta fret over those graphs and spreadsheets.

Also, yeeeaah, can you come in on Sunday, too? We lost some people and need to catch up. Thaaaanks.

Yeah, and you're behind on those TPS reports too. We really need them completed before you take another 3-minute mental health break. Oh, and Saturday would be a good day to get a jump start on the work for Sunday. I will call you hourly on Sunday to make sure you are not having any difficulties apart from my annoying telephone calls every sixty minutes to ask "How is the work coming along?" Sorry but the pay incentive program has been cut this year due to lower earnings expectations caused by mismanagement but we'll say due to unproductive, slacker workers. Here is a day-old bagel to keep you from getting up from your cubicle before that callback is finished.

Re:It's not a "right" (2)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043897)

Management's problem is that it sees everything through a veil of pie charts and graphs

Specifically, they fall into the trap of thinking that they can trust their numbers and their metrics. You might estimate in your head, "If people do X work per hour, and you let someone spend 15 minutes per hour on a break, then you only get 75% of X work done in that hour. Therefore, if I don't allow breaks, I'll increase the amount of work my company is doing by 33%!"

Of course, it's not that simple. People don't scale that cleanly. When you don't allow breaks, your employees get burnt out and stop being productive. When your employees don't have any breaks, they get annoyed with their work and it kills their motivation. When you disallow breaks, your good employees will eventually get fed up and find a better job.

It's good to make sure your metrics actually capture the data you need, and that you're applying math correctly. People and "performance" and "productivity" are not simply numbers that you can manipulate with normal algebraic formula you'd like. A woman makes a baby in 9 months, but 9 women can't make a baby in 1 month. A single person working twice as many hours frequently does not result in twice as much work being accomplished. Doubling the salary for a position will not attract someone twice as good, nor will doubling a person's salary induce him to work twice as hard. Bonuses and other incentives don't necessary cause people to work harder or to create better work. Cutting your budget doesn't necessary save you money.

Many managers simply don't understand how to manage, and a lot of books/classes on the subject are about as helpful as self-help books generally are.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048199)

> A woman makes a baby in 9 months, but 9 women can't make a baby in 1 month.
But they can make 9 babies in 9 months compared to one woman taking at least 82 months to do the same.

Size-up and Speed-up are two different things. It all depends on how you word things.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40044699)

nope got plans ...or
since this is a yes or no question aka request then since i've done so many saturdays and sundays i thereby choose no , since i have plans and before you ask no you may not know what they are since its my private life thats off the company clock soo have a good weekend and since it was a request and since i am unable to do so i expect no retaliation because if there were any such as a cut in hours , or any such behaviour i might hafta report such questionable behaviour to hr and upper management or possibly to a labour lawyer.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038447)

Several client businesses of mine have stated a zero tolerance for slacking off unless it's on your lunch break time.

Might one of them be named Foxconn? Because that sounds just like them.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038867)

Boy am I glad I don't work in some of these places. You know what doesn't help morale? Firing people for not being constantly nose to the grindstone. You know what destroys morale? Being constantly nose to the grindstone. You have to goof off once in a while or you will be unhappy.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039287)

When I smoked, I'd go out and run across people from the other sections and discuss workplace related issues. Many times, these informal meetings led to solved problems and corrected situations.
Smoke breaks are more productive than Facebook. Actually, smoke breaks are more productive than Slashdot too.

Re:It's not a "right" (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042271)

Several client businesses of mine have stated a zero tolerance for slacking off unless it's on your lunch break time.

Please list some of those clients so that everyone here can avoid ever working for them.

Re:It's not a "right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40043449)

Several client businesses of mine have stated a zero tolerance for slacking off unless it's on your lunch break time.

No worker can be 100% productive 100% of the time in 100% of workplaces. It is both mathematically improbable and physiologically improbable that a human being could withstand such a stress loading for a sustained period of time without adverse mental health consequences. Hell, in my workplace the management are the least productive yet they tell us to be more productive. I win the lottery and I will bitch slap my manager because she is a bitch.

Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038097)

Perhaps they'll only gossip during the breaks too. Not gonna happen

Work 'em 'til their dead (4, Informative)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038103)

Yes, heaven forbid your employees take 10 minutes off from their monotonous cubicle hellholes to communicate a little with friends and family. It's not like studies have shown that more worker breaks increase productivity [illinois.edu] or anything. Henry Ford actually told his workers to work less [wikisource.org] because they got more done.

Multi-Account Apple Troll bonch Is Back! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038259)

Here's his other main account:

http://slashdot.org/~Overly%20Critical%20Guy [slashdot.org]

Plus tens to hundreds of other throwaway dummy accounts.

Re:Multi-Account Apple Troll bonch Is Back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038915)

Why do I give a shit if he has multiple accounts and has something to say about Apple when his comment HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH APPLE AND IS WHOLLY ACCURATE?!

Re:Multi-Account Apple Troll bonch Is Back! (5, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039017)

Plus tens to hundreds of other throwaway dummy accounts.

... says mr. "Anonymous Coward".
I've seen you use tens of thousands of throwaway dummy accounts and usually you're just trolling or flamebating.

Ummm, that is what they are proposing (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039091)

They are saying "Let employees take a 15-minute coffee/smoking/Facebook break." That isn't even in the article, that is on the damn Slashdot post. I think it is reasonable to RTFP at least.

The reason employers worry about unrestricted Facebook access is because some employees will slack hard with it. I've seen it at work, and have friends who have seen it: People who will spend hours a day messing around on Facebook not doing anything useful.

This is a proposal saying "Don't ban it, workers need a break. Let them take a break and use it a reasonable amount."

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039335)

The solution for this is not banning, it is monitoring the use of the site so you can find the problem children and deal with them one on one. This is easily done just by looking at IP connections, you don't even need to snoop on the data.

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039509)

they're doing it on their mobile devices. they can't snoop on that data.

that's why they're trying to con people to go into a designated booth to do it so they can count.

clever. not.

many of those offices have telephone booths already.

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (2)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039545)

A serious problem with this is of course different usage patterns. While Greta, the 63 year old in accounting who's generally terrified of computers and barely knows how to "click open the internets" might only keep Facebook open when she's actively looking at it chances are the company's developers, engineers, IT staff and pretty much anyone young enough to not remember the days of Windows "multitask at your own peril" 9x are likely to keep a browser tab with Facebook open all day long. They might even check it every fifteen or twenty minutes, click "like" on someone's status update and then get back to work, all in less than ten seconds. Meanwhile Greta spends two hours per day on Facebook (most of her one hour lunch plus three twenty minute breaks). Of course, if someone looked at the logs they'd get the impression that Greta was using it less than the aforementioned groups (because her usage isn't "constant" over the whole day).

Traffic analysis is tricky, especially since people are people and not all exactly identical with identical usage patterns.

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (3, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040155)

One of my assistants was basically doing her work between using facebook, plenty of fish, etc., etc. I discovered this because work wasn't getting done on time, what was getting done was poorly done, and things were getting totally forgotten. Fortunately, she was using the office computer and not her phone so it was easy to check the logs.

Maybe there really are people who can multitask so that checking FB or whatever every 10 minutes doesn't interfere with their work, but I'm skeptical. I know whenever I try to do complex tasks simultaneously, I end up doing everything less well. From watching how this particular assistant, who always seems to be doing everything frenetically, and yet accomplishing very little and that, poorly, I'm even less convinced there is any value in FB for my business. So I'm one of those assholes who just blocks it at the firewall, along with a bunch of other crap.

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (2)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040483)

I think it depends a lot on what you're doing. I've seen tech support/helldesk/IT types handle IRC + Facebook and other stuff just fine despite being "online" all day long simply because their jobs often have lots of short periods of "nothing to do, might as well check FB/IRC/<Some forum>".

Hell, as a developer I've found that doing something "recreational" between various sub-tasks I'm working on really helps me stay focused (as opposed to jumping straight from one thing to another).

I think the problem appears when you have people who give Facebook more time and higher priority than work.

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040603)

Maybe there really are people who can multitask so that checking FB or whatever every 10 minutes doesn't interfere with their work, but I'm skeptical.
Our workplace dynamic is not people checking facebook every ten minutes. It is people getting a text or update every minute or so and then instantly stopping what they are doing to reply. Since they are are using texting, which is extremely inefficient, it often takes another minute to type out 10 or 15 words. So they are effectively wasting at least 1/3 to half the day.
Many places are banning cell phones and I am not surprised. Our company hasn't gone to that length yet, but if the problem worsens, I suppose they might. I still contend that they should just pay based on performance ( which is measurable for the level of people where we have the problem). If they can realize that they could either answer a text or earn another 50 cents, perhaps they will choose to earn the money.

Re:Ummm, that is what they are proposing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40041587)

They are saying "Let employees take a 15-minute coffee/smoking/Facebook break." That isn't even in the article, that is on the damn Slashdot post. I think it is reasonable to RTFP at least.

Obviously, he was responding to managers who don't like the idea or won't implement it.

If a worker spends hours a day messing around on Facebook, let them go. That's totally different from an occasional break.

You fa1l it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038157)

Knows for sure what a relatively I ever did. It AWESOME and, after in1tial every chance I Zgot smells worse than a user. 'Now that in our group

I'd rather use the break... (4, Insightful)

Professr3 (670356) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038261)

to look for an employer that isn't stuck trying to fit modern workplace paradigms into a tiny little box of thirty-year-old management strategies.

"We don't really get this social media thing, but we DO understand smoke breaks. Just send the geeks outside with the rest! Problem solved."

Counterproductive (3, Insightful)

iampiti (1059688) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038287)

It's a pretty well known fact nowadays that the human brain is not a machine, and as such, needs a break every so often.
Since small breaks are actually needed to keep the brain fresh and doing good work what do you get forbidding these things? Answer: nothing good. People will find something else to do on the breaks even if it's talking to coworkers besides the coffee machine. Besides, they will be more resented, angry and productivity will probably be lower than if they were happy.
Of course, one thing is taking small breaks and another one is checking facebook every 5 minutes. In that case you're probably getting no work done. In the end is the same as restricting the Internet: A middle ground is probably the best choice. It also helps to communicate clearly the company policies regarding these things.

Slacking is slacking (5, Interesting)

BigBadRich (849128) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038305)

I work for a company that blocks social media, as well as "blogs" and "newsgroups" broadly categorised. Effectively the top 2-3 google results I get when searching for things like puppet recipes, or common faults are blocked. This company does NOT get social media. They asked us recently for comments regarding this policy, and I'll paraphrase mine here: Slacking off is slacking off. If people are disengaged, you don't make them more engaged by banning whatever they are doing to fill in the hours they are spending at their desk. OTOH if people are engaged, social media use might augment, rather than threaten productivity. It's interesting the number of people whose fear of social media is that it will make OTHER PEOPLE less productive. Not them of course, but "those damn kids".

Re:Slacking is slacking (0)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038387)

searching for things like puppet recipes

  • remove shoe
  • remove sock from foot
  • insert hand into sock
  • Profit?

for the pedantic, yes I know perfectly what he meant by "puppet recipe" but it's funny(er) this way

Re:Slacking is slacking (3, Insightful)

geedubyoo (1980822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038619)

Ah, it might have been funny - if you hadn't explained that you were trying to be funny.

Re:Slacking is slacking (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038827)

I don't. Is he Korean or something?

Re:Slacking is slacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039035)

Puppet is an open source configuration management system.

Re:Slacking is slacking (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040663)

I work for a company that blocks social media, as well as "blogs" and "newsgroups" broadly categorised. Effectively the top 2-3 google results I get when searching for things like puppet recipes, or common faults are blocked.
Same problem where I work. Approximately 1/3 of the google search results for solutions to issues I run into in Java are blocked by our software. One of them claimed the site was banned due to religious:wiccan content.

Great Idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038307)

Now we can start treating all the 'Social Networkers' as Pariahs just like we do with Smokers.

Send them outside into the rain and snow if they want to be sociable...

Re:Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038519)

Meh, move to some place warmer and drier! Down here in the desert we don't mind smoking outdoors during the winter: the temperature is just right.

Re:Great Idea (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039363)

If you want to sociable at work, try talking to your coworkers. Also, I personally lean the way if zero social networking at most workplaces because there seems yo be too many people who can't handle the alternative. The alternative being, use it as much as you want as long as you get your work done. People think if my neighbour uses it for 15 minutes it's OK if I use it for 20. And it keeps adding up from there

Re:Great Idea (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040033)

You get sent outside so you don't fucking stink up the place.

If you want to "network", whatever. Just don't whip out the phone and start yakking into it in the office.

Treat people as individuals (3, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038509)

If you have competent management they cn tell who gets work done. Unless you work in a factory where you have shift breaks you can tell who isn't pulling their weight. It doesn't matter the reason. If someone can do the work while reading slashdot a few times a day who cares?

Re:Treat people as individuals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40041535)

One would think that, but there are still places where one can get fired for this sillyness. Just happened to me:

Mediocre coworker files complaint, your browsing history is reviewed at the proxy, HR calls that random web use excessive and **bingo**! I'm slightly OT since my 'excessive personal use' wasn't even social networking; it was news sites and slashdot and chewing thru ruby koans and researching 2-factor authentication and exploring LinuxMint and comparing puppet and chef. They estimated 3.5 hrs a week of this misuse.

Chew on that baby for a minute: I got fired as a sysadmin for news, project research, and googling tech questions like puppet vs. chef. No porn, ebay, facebook, catblogging. For less than 1/10th of my time. Despite great reviews.

Spent the first days afterward feeling sandbagged. I'd be bitter but the tech recession that made me take it as a 'safe' job has passed and a few weeks later I've missed one job (cointoss) and am mulling my first offer -- it's a weak fit and a $12k raise.

Posting AC, but ping me here if anyone's doing scalable / cloud-like infrastructures on linux - I've got dev/admin/security experience, and have done things the hard way (CM via Red Hat's RHN Satellite and kickstart and shell scripts via cluster-ssh). I want to join a team that's doing Ops right. Reply if you know anyone that's looking in the northwest US, and I'll follow up.

Re:Treat people as individuals (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046075)

That's such crap for a professional. I take my job seriously but I also know how I work best. Headphones on loud, email and phone off, and concentration. I do this for about an hour. Then I take 5 minutes. Bathroom, coffee, surf a little slash dot or wired, look up some work related things then back to work.

I could see if your projects are sloppy or late but if the work is good why question the method?

If you have problems with your Facebook App (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40038609)

You'll need to apply a patch.

like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40038847)

A lot

fascist (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039221)

I love that the message is tagged "fascist" :-D

Non Smoker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039581)

Good thing I am a "non-smoker".

"You can establish policies that, if enforced strongly enough, eliminate social networks from being accessed on company time."

Douche. If you want to stop productivity at work so be it, but maybe the focus should be on you "self appointed enforcer" for stopping productivity. http://arstechnica.com/business/2009/04/study-surfing-the-internet-at-work-boosts-productivity/

"So - the smokers get double breaks?"

I have never been one to be "Jealous" of people, and whine about it. Reminds me of people that whine "The people on welfare should be drug tested, since I have to for a job" Just because you are tested, doesn't mean you should be in the first place. I am not "Jealous" of smokers or social media users, and I take breaks in my own way.

work is for work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40039717)

What happened to the good old days when people would work when they went to work? I love playing video games but I don't expect my employer to carve time out of my day to allow me to do that. Can we stop making excuses and just do our jobs? if I was paying my mechanic hourly to work on my cat for 5 hours @70$ an hour, and he spends 6 min per hour playing on Facebook, I've just paid him 35$ extra for nothing.

Re:work is for work... (2)

amnesia_tc (1983602) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039791)

if I was paying my mechanic hourly to work on my cat for 5 hours @70$ an hour

I think you have bigger problems than paying an extra $35 if your mechanic is working on your cat.

Re:work is for work... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40045689)

But then my job would suffer because those 6 minutes per hour he plays games, he gets his latest gadget greasy. Then he brings it to me for cleaning. How can I charge him $150 per week to clean it if he doesn't play?

And if you are paying $75 an hour to have your car serviced you are getting fleeced son.

Second hand (4, Funny)

careysb (566113) | more than 2 years ago | (#40039809)

I'm concerned about second hand Facebook.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040213)

a /. break?

They can block... (1)

jomcty (806483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040611)

They can block whatever so long as they don't block /. .

As a non-smoker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040713)

I don't mind smokers taking short breaks from work as long as I've still got my toilet-breaks.

ENOUGH about this shit, godddamnit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40041029)

And yes, I am YELLING.

Not all of us are idiots here.

Social networks are used by idiots.

Stop the articles about social networks, or sink further into
mediocrity.

They have it backwards (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40041897)

Work: The new /. smoke break.

social networking - a little 20th century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40043139)

If one more person mentions the buzz word "social networking" in regards to a glorified wiki I think I'm going to have a brain hemorrhage. Nerd rage is not something to treat lightly. Admit it, you all had friendster and myspace accounts.

Cell jammers (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40045655)

You can block them and we do. We have several throughout our building to block cell phones, it's quite effective too.
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