Wednesday, May 13, 2009

County Government Gets Social

Good news.

In a posting on their website, Catawba County North Carolina the public information officer writes about, "Catawba County now using new social internet networks to reach younger, and more "wired" citizens" The NC Association of County Commissioners also included a story about it in their publications, "Tuned in or turned off by social media".

The bottom line is that the Catawba County government sees Facebook, Twitter, and blogging as good ways to reach their citizens. They've even created a Catawba County, NC Facebook page and have it linked from the lower right corner of the Catawba County website at:

I hope other counties (like Buncombe, NC) look at this and stop blocking their employees from accessing tools like Skype, Facebook, instant messaging, Blogger and many, many more. In my opinion, blocking sites like these is just cutting off lines of communications. They might as well remove the phones because someone might make personal calls during business hours. There are places where access to these type sites might be prudent to block, but in today's world, government networks are not one of them. These tools are the communications and information sharing tools of today. Not using them means you are not going to be communicating with significant portions of your clientele.

Along the same lines - in the county where I work, they removed all the games that came with Windows (or at least removed them from the Start menu). Do they really think that the employee who spends too much time playing games on the computer is going to stop playing games and work harder because they can't play on their computer? This is just non-sense to think that they aren't going to bring a book in or a hand-held device from home and play or figure out how to get to the games without going through the Start menu.

You can't manage people this way. You've got to address the real issues behind the problems. You've got to lead them, inspire them to achieve and do a better job. All that taking these 'distractions' away from everyone does is hurt the productivity of the real hard workers. Researchers at the University of Melbourne concluded that "surfing the internet at work boosts productivity".

Jacqui Cheng wrote in Ars Technica, "People who are able to spend 20 percent or less of their time surfing the Internet at work are more productive than those who don't, according to research from the University of Melbourne. Small Internet breaks help workers focus better, though Internet addicts still have a problem.".

Short breaks to handle personal business or just clear the head makes a worker more productive and creative the rest of the day.

Taking away the communications tools of today from your employees is putting you farther and farther away from the people they need to be communicating with and making them less productive, efficient and does nothing to help the image of your organization.

Way to lead the way Catwaba County!!! Let's hope more follow your lead.

That's my rant for the day... :)