Corporate policies to foster creative use of the web
- Assume the workforce can be trusted to behave responsibly (why penalise the majority when only a few might be culpable? Socitim, 2009).
- Do not routinely block access to social networking tools or websites.
- If permission is required to use certain sites, publicise this and make the application process easy and unthreatening.
- Ensure an up to date browser - eg IE8, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera - is available to all staff.
- Allow staff to choose their browser - eg Firefox, Opera - and take responsibility for learning how to use it.
A business case can help clarify what you are trying to achieve, the benefits that will accrue and who needs to be involved. Here are some of the key considerations.
- What business benefits are expected, or what problems will be solved?
- Will an increased ability to collaborate across the organisation, and with other organisations, result in increased innovation, improved productivity, and increased collective intelligence as people are able to find knowledge and experts quickly?
- Who needs to be involved? As the barriers to the use of social media are often cultural rather technical, it is a good idea to involve senior managers from Social Work, Human Resources, Corporate Learning, IT, Legal and Corporate Communications. They will plan, monitor and agree to a set of social media guidelines to ensure responsible use.
Return on investment (ROI). Opposition to the use of social media may be based on the belief that it is too risky and uncontrollable or that it is a passing fad or a waste of time. In other words, the return may not justify the investment. But what if the investment is very low?
- Most social media and collaboration tools are either free or offer affordable subscription models. The start-up and get-out costs are therefore low.
- Thus, if I is low, R becomes low too
- Identify incremental rather than ‘big bang’ opportunities – look for quick wins.
- Secure the support of a senior executive.
- Tie social collaboration to your organisation’s strategies and goals.
How to deal with risk?
- Identify the top 5-10 worst case scenarios and build contingencies so that you are prepared in advance.
- Embrace and prepare for failure – think about how to adapt to change.
- Identify the potential impact to all parts of the organisations – knowledge transfer, a more enabled 'learning organisation', another channel for customer service
Introduce a lightweight policy
The standards of behaviour expected of employees in discharging their day to day responsibilities equally apply the use of social media. Existing codes of conduct as well as policies on acceptable use of ICT equipment will therefore be relevant. Nonetheless a short and succinct code of conduct setting out the expected standards of behaviour and the consequences of misconduct can provide the organisation with the security and confidence to expand its use of social media. It might include the following (See Appendix 2 for a sample policy).
- Courtesy: content should be professional and free of objectionable material and profanity.
- Confidentiality: never disclose confidential information.
- Transparency: clearly identify yourself as an employee of your organisation.
- Relevance: your online activities should be relevant to your job. Personal use should take place in personal time.
- Accountability: just as you are accountable for your use of telephones and other equipment, you may be asked to account for your activities online.