Around two thirds of employees in Europe use social networking tools as part of their everyday work life, with 65% saying the technology has made them, or their colleagues, more efficient, according to a survey commissioned by AT&T.
Dynamic Markets polled 2510 people in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain. Germany leads the way in adoption, with 72% of respondents using these tools at work, compared to just 59% of Brits.
The poll reveals internal tools are the most popular form of social networking, with 39% using their companies' own collaboration sites on intranets. Internal forums within the firm are used by 20%, whilst company-produced video material shared on intranets has been adopted by 16%. Internal blogging is only used by 11%.
In contrast, most employees do not use external social networking tools for work. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are only used as part of everyday working life by 15% of respondents, whilst external collaboration sites are adopted by just 11%.
Nearly three quarters of respondents say there are benefits to be gained from social networking tools.
Nearly half - 46% - think social networking has sparked ideas and creativity. Increasing knowledge is a benefit cited by 38% of those questioned, with the same figure saying the technology provides access to solutions to problems.
Over a third think social networking helps harness collective knowledge of staff, customers and suppliers. Stimulating team building and collaboration is cited by 32% whilst 31% thinks they improve creativity.
But the survey also highlights problems associated with social networking, with 49% of respondents saying the technology is a distraction and 45% claiming it can be the source of leaks, with confidential information posted on sites.
Nearly a quarter also admit they don't know how the return on investment of internal sites can be measured.
Martin Silman, executive director, AT&T, says: "The research shows that there is a clear trend across Europe for business users to embrace the benefits of 'Web 2.0' technology to underpin collaboration, improve productivity and embrace business efficiency."