Social media

Forget the old F word. There’s now a new kid on the block. Facebook is now the new F, and it’s poised to take the world by storm (not like it hasn’t already).

Given its omnipresence, there’s clearly no running away from the huge impact it’s making to our lifestyles. Almost living and breathing Facebook as if our existence depends on it, many of us have subconsciously included this social monster in our daily lives.

Instead of getting Firsthand news from portals and traditional media, we can now get the Freshest updates – coupled with colourful comments and the option of adding our own – from one Free, integrated platform. What gives?

It’s a newfound Force to be reckoned with and which can be put to good use to boost workplace success, if embraced correctly (viral campaigns) and with the right attitude (networking). 

The line gets blurred, however, when one starts to use it Fervently for personal gratification while at the office, and at the expense of workplace productivity. To what extend should it be tolerated at work? It’s almost akin to a parent asking how much liberty he should be giving to his teenage offspring – it’s always a delicate balance.  

E-chats

Then there’s instant messaging too. On the surface, a quiet workstation with employees busily typing away may paint a picture of sheer efficiency. But don’t be deceived. There could be an acidic concoct brewing from within the depths of the cauldron.

Zoom in on the expressions of some workers, and you could just catch a glimpse of that now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Mona Lisa smile at the monitor. (Unless there’s such joy to behold in a task, I stand corrected.)

Listen out for the rhythm and pauses of keyboard tabs and you might just notice an uncanny synchronisation of read-and-respond timings amongst chatters. (I exaggerate here, but you get my drift.) 

Personal comms

Personal communications is another form of popular time waster. It ranges from web surfing (e-shopping being an increasingly popular activity) and clearing emails to watching YouTube videos, reading newspapers and cellphone texting etc. While it’s not a crime to do some of these every now and then, some people can get carried away.

The trick is to overcome the forces of the dark side with self-discipline. It’s always tempting to indulge once you start and difficult to pull away as you plunge into the deep ravines of personal gratification; but there’s no way to have your cake and eat it. Overindulge and you’d have to pay for it with ill health or a vigorous dieting regime later. As any nutritionist would tell you - it’s better to eat everything in moderation.

Meetings and fillers in between

Of course, it’s not fair to put all the blame on the employee per se. Very often, operation procedures also play a major part in contributing to inefficiency.

Meetings are known to be one of the most unproductive activities at work. Deviated agendas and group think mentality (you can hardly come up with creative brew when there are so many cooks at the table), amongst other factors, are detrimental to progress.

Ideally, instead of a multilevel meeting involving both supervisors and subordinates, an organisation should encourage break-out groups to brainstorm for ideas, debate on issues and round up with suggested solutions, before proceeding with a higher-order seating.

And instead of long sessions, the minutes-taker can also help to keep time so that everyone can adhere to a productive schedule. Arising issues should be separately addressed so as to minimise disruptions to the planned line-up.

Short gaps in between meetings are time wasters too. Neither can one continue with an interpretive report nor have sufficient time to troubleshoot a problem comprehensively. At best, they are at best probably only good for deleting spam/junk emails or quick delegations. At worst, they are mostly wasted on water-cooler conversations or prolonged toilet/coffee/smoke breaks.

Email comms

Sometimes, a simple issue that require only a minute to resolve (ie, just a yes/no response) can be delayed – no thanks to emails and their threads - by days.

This happens as a result of there being too many stakeholders involved (with everyone giving their two cents worth of inputs) which leads to a long train of ding-dongs here and there; or the need to await a certain party’s - but who’s not immediately available – comments.

But to be fair, the office email does have its virtues. Not only does it generally speed up communications within a group of people, it also promotes mutual understanding and instant follow-ups. Perhaps all we need to do to get around its inadequacies lies in exercising more flexibility and contextual discretion.

To loaf or not to loaf?

As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Research has shown that like a power nap of the mind, a little personal indulgence and appropriate breaks can actually boost productivity and efficiency.

So go on, set your priorities, and do what you think is right as a responsible, respectable and professional working adult. You’d eventually find yourself reaping the sweet fruits of success in more deserving ways than one.