As social media usage becomes second nature to us, we may not recognize the impact it has on our everyday lives, from when we awake in the morning until we go to bed at night. It’s an undisputed fact that a majority of Millennials check their social media accounts upon waking in the morning, and right before they go to bed at night. An institution that has become that important will undoubtedly have noticeable influence throughout the entirety of the waking day, particularly in the workplace.

At work, social media usage is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Managers know social media activities (among other Internet related activities) consume a sizeable portion of the work day, affecting productivity to an unknown degree. Workers, on the other hand, know that their managers know that they are using social media during work hours, but that widespread acceptance of social media as an integral part of one’s day makes preventative actions hard to implement for a manager or a company through company policies. Tech This, a Lubbock IT solutions company, is often approached by corporate IT managers who want a way to halt or at least monitor social media usage through the company’s Internet connection. Because social media is moving closer to the individual via cell phone, trying to curb social media usage during the workday is largely out of the hands of the IT department. Short of asking employees to hand over their personal cell phone when they arrive at work, not much can be done.

Because social media is by default largely public, activities announced through social media like Facebook, Twitter and other outlets tend to be unfiltered, unverified, unchecked, and unrestrained. The results can be catastrophic. Company secrets get revealed, future plans leaked, intra-company gossip aired – all open for anyone to see. So besides the obvious hit to productivity, social media opens a company to corporate espionage like never before. Despite social media companies touting the marketing benefits for businesses who embrace social media, there is clearly an unbridled dark side to consider.

Because social media usage is so prevalent and so personal to the individual, there isn’t an effective means of preventing it from being used, even during the workday, so for now, the most effective means of protecting a company’s future from nefarious social media usage is most likely through continuous training. Corporate trainers must incorporate into their policies and training curriculum acceptable uses of social media, and it must be reinforced over and over again. It may be that a company must openly embrace social media as a marketing platform, but to emphasize the incorrect and unethical uses of social media to its employees. For now, it may be impossible to ask the 800 pound gorilla to leave, but if he’s going to stay, we may as well ask if he would like a doughnut with his morning coffee.