Facing up to Facebook

Do you like to poke your colleagues? If so, you're not alone. Millions of people in the UK are signed up to social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, and use them to conduct their personal lives online. However, many employers have been a bit slower to embrace the Web 2.0 revolution, and there have been a spate of stories in the press recently about companies banning access to the poster-child of social networking, Facebook. People in the UK work long and hard, with scant time to sort their lives outside work. Many employers recognise this by letting them use the phone system or the internet in their own time at work for personal use. This isn't really any different to Facebook, despite all the hype. Just as worrying are those employers who are sticking their fingers in their ears and humming loudly until the horrible technology goes away. We're concerned that if they do this, and don't tell their staff what they expect from them in terms of conduct on the web, then they'll over-react and discipline an employee the next time someone has a bad day and sounds off on someone's Facebook wall about it. Again, working together to establish a policy on what's acceptable and publicise it is probably the safest long term way to deal with these problems. We've put together some guidance for employees (and employers) on how to deal with social networking, using old fashioned networking techniques like actually talking to each other. If you'd like to know more, or you're just worried aboutthe point of etiquette on whether you should accept a friend request from your boss, have a look at our new social networking section.