Breaking: Twitter costs British economy less than people who gaze out the window

There we go again.

The Telegraph has published an article about some survey which claims social networks such as Twitter are costing British businesses at the very least £1.38 billion (approx. $2.25 billion) a year.

Shocking findings, I daresay!

Morse, the IT services and technology company who commissioned the survey, said the true cost to the economy could actually be substantially higher than the £1.38bn estimate.

How about we settle for a gazillion?

Where does that number come from, you ask? The £1.38bn estimate is based on a survey that showed more than half of office workers use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook for personal use during the working day, and admit wasting an average of 40 minutes a week each. A veritable productivity hole, adds a Morse consultant who – like so many before him – fails to capture that there’s a difference between being productive and ‘not wasting time’.

I’d like to see more research in this field, but more focused on office workers who spend the majority of their day staring out the windows, yapping about last night’s television highlights with coworkers in the coffee and/or smoking room, attending meetings where no decision or progress gets made, or simply working on stuff that’s not particularly considered to be productive for their employer, the British economy as a whole, or the rest of planet Earth.

What I hate about these surveys is how they focus on what people seem to be doing when they are supposedly ‘wasting their time’ and singlehandedly destroying the British economy with all their tweeting and liking on Facebook, instead of why people are seemingly not motivated enough to leave the social interaction for those periods of time outside of the official business hours. My guess: more enticing headlines this way.

Maybe it’s just the concept of ‘business hours’ that isn’t something the new generation of office workers is apt at dealing with, considering they grew up living in a fragmented world where social media make up integral parts of their lives that cannot simply be turned off. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing or a management problem, but one thing it is most definitely not: the fault of Twitter or Facebook.

Or do you really think that guy next to you who spends hours staring at his Facebook news feed is suddenly going to be way more productive when the IT department blocks access to the site?

One more survey to ignore, move along now, nothing to see here.

(Hat tip to Daniel Joerg – on Twitter)