Workers defy workplace Facebook bans


Restricting access to messaging, social and video services fuels employee disobedience

British employees are the most likely in Europe to ignore workplace restrictions on social media, messaging apps and cloud storage apps thanks to easy access to mobile technology, according to a new study.

The research reveals that two in five European office workers (40%) are banned from using Facebook at work, or have restricted access to it. Nevertheless, more than two in five UK employees (41%) who know their companies restrict Facebook defy their employers by using it at work.

The next highest in the rebel stakes were the Germans (34%), followed by the Spanish (33%), Italians (32%), and Belgians and Dutch (31%). The nation most obedient to company internet policy is France, with only one in five (20%) French workers knowingly accessing social media against the instructions of their employer.

Hospitality businesses are most likely to restrict or ban Facebook (57%), the study showed, yet had the second most disobedient employees, with two fifths (38%) of workers saying that they use it anyway. Workers in the property industry were the most likely to ignore corporate Internet policy to visit social media sites, with 46% of employees defying workplace bans on Facebook.

The study, involving 4,500 office workers across Europe, launched today by Samsung Electronics, shows that similar proportions in the UK admitted to using cloud storage apps (40%), messaging and telephony apps (39%), video streaming services (41%) and Twitter (40%) at work. These British employees either ignored workplace bans, or used their own technology to overcome work-imposed restrictions.

The research suggests that corporate restrictions on internet use are fuelled by a lack of trust shown by some European bosses. This ‘trust gap' is revealed in the finding that barely half (51%) of all workers questioned across Europe said that their employers gave them freedom to use technology as they wish, and treated them as if they had good knowledge of technology. Almost a fifth (17%) said that their employers assume that they have very little technology knowledge and impose extreme restrictions on technology.

Commenting on these findings, Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, consumer and business psychologist at University College London, said: 'From a security point of view, it's perfectly natural that employers should want to control their employees' use of technology, to a degree. If, however, they also neglect the contemporary needs of their workforce they may face reductions in employee productivity and engagement. The days when employees would simply follow the rules without questioning them are truly behind us. Trust, clear communication and meaningful frameworks are far more effective at facilitating constructive behaviour, both at work and at play.

'Banning technologies and websites in the workplace often has the opposite effect to that intended, as this study shows. Real trust must be mutual. Organisations are far better off observing how employees are working, and then finding ways to make this behaviour compatible with the workplace,' added Dr Tsivrikos.

The study also found that in the UK, Millennials aged 18 to 34 were most likely to defy corporate restrictions on access to websites and applications, being almost twice as likely to disobey compared to the average across all age groups. The research found that almost half admitted to ignoring or circumventing workplace bans on Facebook (52%) and video streaming sites such as YouTube (54%).

Rob Orr, vice president of enterprise business, Samsung Europe, noted: 'The younger generation is showing what workplaces will look like in just a few years' time. Businesses cannot afford for their employees to break corporate security and internet policies as a matter of routine. Add in the fact that workers are increasingly using their personal devices at work, and their work devices for personal tasks, and it is evident that organisations need clearly defined boundaries between both that are understood, and obeyed, by employees. That is why a tool like Samsung KNOX is so important: among other things it allows employees to switch between personal apps and a password-protected workspace on the same device, as circumstances demand.'


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