Wiki at Work

Your company is more likely to attract the brightest and keep them if its own internal communications reflect the slick, collaborative informality of Web 2.0, with its blogs, wikis and social-networking sites. So there's a good case for going with the techno-flow rather than clamping down on personal e-mail and internet use, says RON CONDON. But will you get a soaring display of teamwork in the workplace or a low-level larkabout?

There was a brief kerfuffle over the summer about the pernicious effects on office efficiency of Facebook and other social-networking internet sites. It was all sparked off by some rather dodgy research published by a recruitment law firm, which asserted that British businesses were losing £130m a day (or 233 million hours every month) because feckless young folk were whiling away their working hours e-mailing their mates and swapping amusing videos.

Calls to ban such vile abuse of office equipment were met with outrage from the TUC, which insisted on every worker's inalienable right to do a bit of cyber-socialising on the boss's time. Shortly afterwards, research by Sophos, a company involved in IT security, found that half of all businesses actually ban the use of social-networking sites from the workplace.

So should businesses ban all this technical trivia and get staff to knuckle down to their jobs? Or is there a case for going with the flow, and trying to harness the new technologies to the benefit of the business? How you answer might well be determined by your age, but there's a growing body of opinion favouring a whole-hearted adoption of these new collaborative technologies. And much of the IT industry sees it as potentially one of the next big growth areas.

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