I’ve just penned the following letter to Accountancy magazine – and guess it’s self explanatory. My apologies that this then becomes another blog posting about Facebook.

  • In June I introduced the subject under the title, Facebook for professionals;
  • At the start of July I commented on the need to be aware that what you post on Facebook could work to your detriment when you’re looking for a job or to make partner – and equally that employers and managing partners might want to look at Facebook as part of their Due diligence check on prospective recruits and partners;
  • Later in July I picked up on comments about Facebook and professionals on the HR capitalist blog.

Anyway – here’s the letter to Accountancy:

I spotted the short item ‘Fighting Facebook’ in the September issue following the ‘Facebook Frenzy’ article that appeared in the August issue. You noted that a large proportion of City firms are reported to have banned staff from using Facebook in the office. The mainstream media seems keen to dramatise this issue and it is certainly starting to come up in my conversations with accountancy firms.

We’ve seen the related knee-jerk reactions before and it is, I think, all about Fear . Originally it was just ‘No personal phone calls’. Then with the advent of the internet it became ‘No personal emails’. More recently, ‘No instant messaging (eg: MSN/Skype)’ and ‘No texting’. Fear of the unknown perhaps? Fear of technology we don’t understand or use ourselves?

In practice restrictions like these are often imposed by responsible employers to ensure their staff do not steal time for which they are paid to work. Personnel handbooks make clear that non-business activities should be avoided during the working day but in reality as long as no one takes liberties, no one makes a fuss. The same rules should simply be applied to posting, emailing and communicating on social networks as this is no different really. And we must remember that Facebook is just one such site out of dozens if not hundreds that exist.

Total bans on accessing one or more such sites will be as counter-productive as would be confiscating all mobile phones from staff to prevent them reading and sending personal text messages.

Indeed, in the same way that some clients now text info to their accountants, so there is an increasing cross-over between work and social networking sites. This further complicates the position too.

Mark Lee

Like this post? You can now obtain my 10,000 word ebook containing loads more Social Media related insights, short-cuts, tips and advice aimed specifically at accountants. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>