That the government is studying the impact of the social media ban in government offices is a welcome move.
When the government banned the use of social media in offices in 2011, they did so to prevent civil servants from misusing office hours and equipment. But the problem was not social media it was that civil servants either were not using it responsibly or productively, or did not have enough work to do.
Either way, the ban was easily bypassed using proxy websites. With almost every civil servant owning a smart phone, access to social media websites is 24/7 (of course only if the 3G connection does not let you down).
Today, we have ministers taking “selfies” of themselves during office hours as evident by the time stamps on their posts on social media. We have agencies using social media to reach out and interact with the public. Even grand parents seem to have caught up with the Facebook generation. We have a social media policy in place but yet to be adopted by the government.
It is clearly evident that the ban is outdated and useless. Rather, it is time to embrace it with open arms and get with the times.
While many of us now aware of the pros and cons of social media, we are also aware of its potential from business to good governance.
Not adopting and exploiting it fully for good governance is a mistake that ought to be corrected as soon as possible albeit with the necessary guidelines on its use in place.
For that, the government must adopt the social media policy first.
Office hours and equipment will always be misused. Its not unusual to see civil servants playing “candy crush” or some other online game behind their desks. In some agencies, civil servants can still be found to be browsing through social media sites like Facebook, during office hours.
But only by officially adopting the social media policy and ensuring officials are held accountable for exploiting access to social media, can such misuse be minimised.
When officials are finding the time to distract themselves on social media, the problem is deeper than social media access. It’s the fault of the management not the employees.
A well motivated work force is less likely to misuse office time and machinery.
However, studies are also showing that allowing employees to take breaks by letting them browse social media, or play a game online, could actually help them be more productive and creative.