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Think twice before clicking Accept on that Facebook friend request!

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18 Aug 00:00 by Simon Bruce

Facebook was and is given a huge boost by the fact that users can continue to interact and add comments and photos while on the move. We have also seen an increase in video traffic. But there can be a major downside to Facebook when adding work colleagues. Facebook contacts agreed or requested with work colleagues can be a bad plan. 

Let us look at one example. If you made a comment at say 10 am in the morning while in the office, and it is misunderstood, it may need a reply or an apology later in the day, that evening. This causes tensions in the workplace. This is why more and more companies are editing employment guidelines that forbid the use of Facebook and also accepting or initiating friend requests with work colleagues. 

Those who have not followed this advice have found office hours are now longer - originally 9 hours but now 12 hours or more. You may be responding to a comment in the evening from a work colleague, as per the example above, with a response to a work-related comment. 

You would probably not reply to an email after hours but a comment on Facebook? 

It seems to demand a reply and your delay in replying is measured. You run the risk of soon asking yourself, so now when I am not in the office? If you extend your office "boundary" across Facebook and into your personal life then you may be making an error. 

For example, your sports colleagues, who connect with you would see work comments. Your office colleagues would see comments in your name on events outside of work...and if negative, perhaps one day these could be shown to your company directors. If one of your colleagues from your "sports club contact list" sees a critical comment from someone inside your company, they may 

1) alter their opinion about your company - your employer and, or 

2) change their opinion about you. To control this means your "office hours" will be extended. 

Are you on overtime? Look at this from the viewpoint of your office. Your Christmas Party at the sports club may have seasonal photos of cheer. But when they were taken would you have expected your main board directors to be there? If they had been present would you have made sure that the photos were different? If your work colleagues are on your friends list, then of course they are allowed to follow you and see your out-of-work photos....and this is deliberately a very harsh example so you really do understand the risks, it may mean one day you are indeed out of work! 

Think carefully before you extend your office hours social boundary. Facebook has a long memory unless you can delete posts that could be detrimental to your career progression. The services we can access on our phones are fabulous and there are more to come. But office guidelines and protocols can be different to those applicable for leisure time. Be careful your smartphone is not destroying your privacy screen. These notes and other advice are all part of the guidance offered to candidates by MyWorld, both prior to interview to help gain that job offer, and on-going for a successful career.