creative

Photo by Spadix

“We recognize the importance and value of being engaged online, BUT, our IT team has a lot of concerns about providing access to social media.”

Ouch.

Unfortunately, IT concerns continue to be a major social media roadblock for many businesses and organizations that have to maintain complicated Web infrastructures. To date, I have yet to hear of any social media site being solely responsible for taking down a company’s IT system. The reality is that the use of social media sites is no more of an IT threat than general employee use of email and the Internet.

Most social networking sites do capture some degree of personal information which is of course always riskier than capturing no information at all. That is why companies are now regularly supplementing existing email/Internet policies with social media policies that guide employee use of sites in the workplace. An IT supporting boss may counter by arguing that providing access to social media is simply flipping a green light for employees to waste time.

Let’s put the obvious aside for a moment (social media’s overall value for relationship building, brand extension and direct engagement) to directly address the concern of social media as a “time suck.”

What’s the Primary Threat to IT Blocking Access to Social Media?

Creativity.

Last week, I was reading Clive Thompson‘s “Why an idling mind is the mother of invention” article in the latest issue of Wired (seriously, read this article). Clive struck a chord with a topic that’s been on my mind for some time. He notes that our current work culture is obviously heavily concerned with employee focus  and productivity. He then goes on to question whether we might all be more productive if employees were encouraged to allow our minds to drift throughout the day.

Wait a minute…

I know what you’re thinking. We’re not talking about hour-long work naps (though I have heard stories…luckies…) or complete disengagement from work during the day. Rather, Clive poses a strong argument around the notion that allowing employees to escape Word and Excel documents to sift through Facebook, post some tweets or take in a couple YouTube videos can actually be quite beneficial.

I for one, could not agree more – and not just because of my job title. If you’re like me, I’m a creative dweller as opposed to a creative firecracker. Rarely do I roll into a brainstorm session and churn up a final concept within an hour. Rather, to Clive’s point, I drift. My best ideas come when I least expect them. On the train ride to work, scrolling my Twitter stream, out on a run, surfing around the Onion, strolling the city on a photo shoot or mindlessly strumming the guitar. That’s when lightning strikes.

It certainly would be amazing to generate killer creative on demand. Luckily, I have a boss that realizes this is not the case. We’re regularly encouraged to get out of the office for a stroll, take breaks to bounce around and are encouraged to keep tabs on online marketing trends and social media. The result? A workplace opens the doors to a creative firestorm.

Gone are the days of process in/process out. If you want to start seeing some new ideas, a twist on the old model, a step forward for your company, open up those IT roadblocks and encourage employees to get active online. I guarantee you’ll start hearing a lot more brainstorms kick off with the following statement:

“Ooohh, did you all see the {website, video, tweet, etc.} that was kind of like this?”

-Scott

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About Scott Meis

SVP, Digital Content Strategy @ Weber Shandwick Seattle. Outdoors. Adventure. Travel. I dig the Foto.

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Social Media

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