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How to Make Web 2.0 Productivity Tools Work

By Elizabeth Millard Print this article Print

Finding real productivity with social networking activities like microblogging is a challenge, and likely to get even more difficult, as new technology enters the marketplace. But there are a few enterprise strategies for making the most of the collaborative social tools.

As social networking tools hit the enterprise with full force, employees that have developed a fondness for Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace are now eager to extend their blogging and network skills to applications like Yammer and Dotster. But how can companies make sure the digital tools are enhancing productivity, rather than providing a digital water cooler where work gets put on hold?

Tying productivity to activities like microblogging is a challenge, and likely to get even more difficult, as new technology enters the marketplace. But there are a few strategies for making the most of the tools:

Abandon Measurement
Although some companies will likely explore different methods for measuring employee productivity in the Web 2.0 world, some experts believe that trying to track such gains may be a questionable proposition.

"When it comes to most knowledge workers, corporations don't audit the productivity of their phone use, or emails, or the use of meeting rooms," says Gil Yehuda, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Management assumes that the best measure is overall productivity on projects and tasks."

Instead of trying to create metrics, companies should take a something of a leap of faith and trust that productivity gains will be achieved. "It is widely acknowledged that Web 2.0 technologies improve productivity, and only technological laggards fail to appreciate its value," according to Josh Holbroook, a director of enterprise research at Yankee Group.

Allow Personal Tech Use, To a Limit

Savvy companies also allow for a reasonable, small amount of time and technology for non-work use.

For example, if an employee checks a Gmail account for three minutes in the morning, it may be against the spirit of the corporate technology usage agreement, but trying to clamp down on that kind of minor personal usage could have the employee pursuing another personal task: updating a resume in anticipation of job hunting.

Similarly, companies should allow for a bit of personal conversation and flair on microblogging sites, as long as the content isn't inappropriate. Clamping down on opinions or personal thoughts on a microblog would be like asking employees not to express their feelings at work -- sometimes, such an admonition is warranted if it does against company policy, but often, sharing conversation is a way of connecting with others.

This article was originally published on 2008-10-16
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