Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are costing UK businesses over £1.38 billion ($2.25 billion) per year in lost productivity, research from IT services company Morse stated Monday.
From the 1,460 office workers surveyed, over half (57 percent) said that they used social networking sites during the working day for personal use. On average those people were spending 40 minutes on these sites each week, Morse said.
The time wasted could be even higher as the research also revealed that on average office workers think that their colleagues spend nearly an hour (59 minutes) each day at work on social networking sites.
"The popularity of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook has grown considerably over the last couple of years, however with it has come the temptation to visit such sites during office hours," commented Philip Wicks, consultant at Morse. "When it comes to an office environment, the use of these sites is clearly becoming a productivity black hole."
When it comes to usage policies, it is clear many businesses have some way to go, as 76 percent of those surveyed said that their employer hadn’t issued them with specific guidelines with regards to using Twitter.
The report also indicated that companies haven't been strict enough on setting guidelines for employees in regards to sensitive information being released on social networking sites.
Another problem Morse found was particularly when it came to Twitter, where many companies faced security threats due to the increased use of "URL shortening." This potentially leaves employees open to phishing scams, malware and computer viruses, which could compromise a business' IT security.
Of the office workers surveyed, 81 percent admitted that they were worried they might be clicking on a link to an unsecure website.
"After years of preaching the security dangers of clicking on unknown emails and websites, employees can unintentionally be letting their guard down when it comes to clicking on links from the likes of Twitter and other social networking sites. It is important that businesses do their best to protect themselves by reiterating the dangers," Wicks stated in a press release.
"However, if implemented correctly, the use of social networks can help facilitate closer ties with employees and customers. Therefore, businesses need to strike the right balance between engagement and productivity when it comes to employee usage," Wicks concluded.