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Updated: July 18, 2013 20:00 IST

Socially connected

Nita Sathyendran
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Techies are on a thin line when expressing opinions about issues at work. Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar
Techies are on a thin line when expressing opinions about issues at work. Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar

Social media policies are the need of the hour in Technopark

These days, it’s like you can’t do anything without the social media – something that all companies, especially IT firms with their young, net-savvy workforce, have had to acknowledge. The companies in Technopark are no different, with almost every other of the 40,000 plus employees active in cyberspace on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram...

Twenty-something Elizabeth T., a self-proclaimed ‘avid social networker’ who works in a multi-national company speaks for many when she claims: “Around ninety per cent of my 800-plus friends on Facebook are colleagues or fellow IT professionals at Technopark.”

Considering just the sheer number of their employees blogging, posting, commenting and/or tweeting about everything under the sun with scores of virtual friends, many companies in Technopark are either formulating or tightening their existing social media policies (guidelines to communicating online). In fact, recently, a workshop on ‘Doing business with social media’ was organised at Technopark by the local chapter of Confederation of Indian Industry and several companies, big and small, we learnt, have of late been holding internal meetings for the same.

“A social media policy has become a necessity for corporates,” says M. Vasudevan, senior manager – Business Development, Technopark, adding: “For one, companies need such policies to pre-emptively deal with privacy concerns that could arise by their employees using social media.” Technopark itself does not yet have a social media policy as such but “controls” its social media updates via a public relations firm.

Says Sudhish Radhakrishnan, a blogger who deals with corporate communications at an MNC: “Each employee has the potential power to brand the company they work for in the course of what I like to call the ‘self-branding’ they do on social networking sites. Hence, a social media policy is becoming a part of smart media management strategies.” John Joseph Paul, who works for a smaller firm involved in IT solutions for health cares says: “Such a policy is necessary because social media in the workplace can be a hindrance to productivity.” Techie Rinku Prakash who works at an MNC adds: “Indulging in social media most often results in a decrease in quality and quantity.”

The unwritten rule across the spectrum is that employees cannot use office computers for personal business. And that often means no e-mailing, no online chatting, no browsing, no downloading and definitely no social networking, say techies. Facebook, for one, is off limits almost everywhere on campus, with access restricted to just a handful of people – usually those in senior management and/or others involved in social media marketing. Some companies, especially the big ones, are very strict about their employees indulging and divulging in social media even on their personal computers.

In companies such as RR Donnelly, UST Global and IBS, for example, there is a moratorium on revealing client details and projects, new products, information that identifies teams within the company, ranting against the company/client/team/ an individual, and the like. “You’ve got to know your limits when you are talking about your work. It maybe alright to post pictures of corporate social responsibility activities that you are involved in or intra and inter-company tournaments that you participated in or happened to attend. It’s not, for example, wise to keep posting photos of yourself drunk or keep whining about the hours you work. These posts are permanent and will become part of your record,” says Sudhish.

The penalty, they say, for not sticking to the policies may involve legal action or worse dismissal. Then again, understanding the inherent need for social networking, especially among the younger populace, some organisations also have their own social network.

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