…My manger is out of the office…and I am on Facebook (while doing work of course)…in most work places if this activity was found out you would receive a clip around the ear (or a least a stark talking to) but in the Improvement Service you are actively encouraged to use Facebook. I can already feel the jealously emanating from workplaces where the social networking site is banned; indeed 80% of UK councils do not allow access. Many employers only see Facebook as an irritant that will distract their workforce from key tasks. This attitude toward social media, however, means that bosses themselves are being distracted from the major changes that are taking place in communications and the benefits that Facebook and similar sites can offer to an organisation.
The internet has come of age, through personalisation, people feel genuine attachment to their Facebook profile or Twitter account and means that there is more communication between individuals than have ever existed before. This is a bottom up movement as people slowly build up their contacts they get more involved and so more addicted. The key is how to use the successful areas of Facebook in a work environment to benefit local authorities. The Communities of Practice (CoP) is unofficially dubbed the ‘Facebook for councils’ and if we could only replicate the devotion and enthusiasm that people feel toward Facebook to the CoP then genuine results will follow.
The CoP allows you to build up a contact list, outline areas of expertise and even include a profile picture. Communities are the central basis of the CoP allows people to set up groups (yes like Facebook groups) to exchange ideas and catalogue exchanges for future reference. The CoP is completely free, with a membership of over 5,400 Scottish members, over 80 Scottish communities and can be joined by visiting: www.communities.idea.gov.uk. This embrace of social networking, therefore, has two great benefits; firstly it enables greater and more fluid communications which will enable us to achieve the Improvement Service core goals of increased efficiency and quality of service delivery and occasionally, I can check my Facebook at work, it seems like a win win.