Twitter costing billions in productivity – really?

A UK IT consulting firm conducted a survey that found the use of social networking by British workers was costing employers 1.38 billion pounds.  Here is the methodology as explained by the press release:

“From the 1,460 office workers surveyed over half (57%) said that they used social networking sites during the working day for personal use. On average those people were spending 40 minutes on these sites each week, equating to just under a full working week being wasted each year by employees using social networking sites at work.”

Its not clear from the press release but I assume those numbers are multipled by the average workers salary in Britian to come up with the scary figure of 1.38 billion pounds.   What would a study find if it asked how much time employees spent on the phone to their spouse or chatting with other co-workers or planning their vacations?

Isn’t the true measure of lost productivity about whether deadlines are getting missed, calls go unanswered, emails unresponded to and the decreasing quality of products and services ?  Sure social networking can be a compulsive activity for people, a time waster, a distraction from real work but is it categorically different than the many other time-fillers employees have used to get through a workday?

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