Whistle - But Don't Tweet - While You Work

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Workers who want to share the latest news with Facebook friends and Twitter followers will need to wait until after hours or risk violating company policy, a new survey suggests. More than half (54 percent) of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed recently said their firms do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while at work.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, “Which of the following most closely describes your company’s policy on visiting social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, while at work?” Their responses:

Prohibited completely 54 percent
Permitted for business purposes only 19 percent
Permitted for limited personal use 16 percent
Permitted for any type of personal use 10 percent
Don't know/no answer 1 percent
100 percent

“Using social networking sites may divert employees’ attention away from more pressing priorities, so it’s understandable that some companies limit access,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes.”

Willmer cautioned that employees should always exercise good judgment, no matter how lenient their company’s policy. “Professionals should let common sense prevail when using Facebook and similar sites -- even outside of business hours,” he said. “Regrettable posts can be a career liability.”

Robert Half Technology offers the following tips for protecting your professional reputation when using social networking sites:

Know what’s allowed. Make sure you understand and adhere to your company’s social networking policy.

Use caution. Be familiar with each site’s privacy settings to ensure personal details or photos you post can be viewed only by people you choose.

Keep it professional. Use social networking sites while at work to make connections with others in your field or follow industry news -- not to catch up with family or friends.Stay positive. Avoid complaining about your manager and coworkers. Once you’ve hit submit or send, you can’t always take back your words -- and there’s a chance they could be read by the very people you’re criticizing.

Polish your image. Tweet or blog about a topic related to your profession. You’ll build a reputation as a subject matter expert, which could help you advance in your career.

Monitor yourself. Even if your employer has a liberal policy about social networking, limit the time you spend checking your Facebook page or reading other people’s tweets to avoid a productivity drain.

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