It’s that time again . . . the NCAA college-basketball tournament. For several weeks, U.S. basketball fans indulge their passion for the sport. Debating with fellow hoop lovers, building their brackets, and, of course, following the high drama of the Final Four—it’s all part of the college-basketball experience. Many also bring their passion to work, joining betting pools and discussing games with colleagues. In their excitement, some may neglect their work duties and who can blame them? Talking basketball for many is surely more fun than working.
But it’s not just college basketball. If you were to walk the corridors of your company, you’d probably see employees staring at Facebook, posting tweets, and reading LinkedIn posts about . . . whatever. And many would be doing so on their personal devices wherever they are in the building, not just in their office or cubicle.
With all this social media activity, one wonders how any work gets done. And is it possible that social media “vampires” are contributing to the failure of some firms and the weakening of America’s global competitiveness? The jury is still out, but the data certainly raise questions.
For example, according to a Pew Research Center study, 74 percent of all Internet users use social-networking sites. However, younger adults use social media to a much greater degree, with 82 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds participating and 89 percent of 18- to 49-year-olds.
What’s more, Edison Research has found that 22 percent of Americans use social media several times per day, with 23 percent of Facebook users checking their feeds five or more times. According to Edison, the mean number of daily Facebook looks is four.
Now, you might wonder what’s wrong with a quick social-media glance at work? Probably not a lot other than the ethical issue of stealing company time. But for many employees, the looks aren’t quick. According to a study of American workforce inefficiency by researchers at Kansas State University, the average employee spends 60 to 80 percent of his Internet time at work on personal tasks, not work duties.