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Does Facebook encourage employees to build relationships with colleagues?

The BBC recently commented on a new report from think tank Demos, that employers should embrace Facebook. "Social networking can encourage employees to build relationships with colleagues across a firm. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships," said the report. It also suggested that attempts to control employees' use of such software could damage firms in the long run by limiting the way staff communicate.

I had a quick ask around the office to see whether people here thought it was useful to befriend colleagues via Facebook or whether they had any reservations. Generally, it was agreed that while people were happy to be friends with colleagues on Facebook, it doesn't strengthen or help build relationships. This may be because we are a small company so we have a lot of direct contact with one another, perhaps it would be different in a larger organisation? Socialising with colleagues in person outside of work was seen as a more effective way of building relationships.

To  my surprise, no one really had any reservations about colleagues having access to their personal profiles (one user commented that embarrassing photos were most likely to be posted by his workmates!), they were more concerned about family members seeing things they shouldn't.

A couple of people commented that they actually find Facebook most useful for keeping in touch with ex-colleagues, with whom they may not otherwise be in regular contact. 

So the conclusion from this office seems to be Facebook is another way of connecting with colleagues and it's nice but no substitute for an evening in the pub…

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