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Getting Rid of Facebook for Employees May Carry as Many Risks as Retaining It

You might think that with all of the problems social networking sites like Facebook can create in the workplace -- ranging from lost productivity to potential legal liability for discrimination or harassment --  employers should simply prevent employees from using these sites on the job. But if companies deny access to Facebook, they may find that themselves unable to recruit younger employees, who view a Facebook ban as a "betrayal of trust," according to a recent study commissioned by an Australian law firm. 

The study, which surveyed 700 people by phone, found that almost half of those who used social networking sites at work would choose an employer with permissible policies over one who blocked access.  While only 14 percent of employees surveyed said they used the Internet at work, not surprisingly, usage was higher among younger respondents, with a third of 16- to 24-year olds and a quarter of 25- to 34-year olds logging into Facebook sometime during the work day.  The study results suggest that companies attempting to recruit younger workers may have to reconsider their Internet policies in order to compete, suggested Nick Abrahams of Deacons, the Australian firm that commissioned the study.

A Facebook ban might minimize a company's potential legal liability -- but it doesn't necessarily serve a company's business interests since it could hamper efforts to recruit younger employees and reduce workplace morale.   What's most interesting about this story is that a law firm took the time to examine the business consequences of a measure that makes sense from a legal perspective.

Has your law firm ever conducted similar studies to determine the business consequences, or costs and benefits of proposed legal advice?  And do you think that the responsibility for evaluating the business impact of legal advice lies with the lawyers -- or to their clients? 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 16, 2008 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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