Europe embraces social networking at work

Europe embraces social networking at work

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."

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