Social media has now finally gone main stream at nearly every corporation, even down to your neighborhood’s oldest mom and pop shop. Is that a good thing? Sure, there’s now a new level of transparency and responsiveness that provides consumers more access and engagement with the business community than ever before; but are companies really benefiting from social media adoption?

Many companies simply outsource social media management altogether, and others build in-house teams to manage the noise. Still others integrate social media marketing into the individual job descriptions of each employee. Allowing sales and customer service teams to engage with new and existing clients quickly across social media channels can certainly be effective. But when it comes to personal social media use at work, employers are left scratching their heads on how to balance productivity and social media usage. Are their concerns merited? According to a recent Huffington Post article by Eliyahu Federman, “Access to social media is costing employers an estimated $650 billion a year.” Ouch!

So what can employers do to mitigate time lost to social media during work hours? Here are a few options:

1. Build the Berlin Wall – Block known social sites from your network with a tool like Cold Turkey and put an outright ban on mobile devices entirely during work hours.

  • Pros – employees will essentially be forced to focus on the task at hand and won’t have the nagging temptation of checking their social feeds
  • Cons – employee moral is sure to sink, and enforcing a strict ban of this kind takes a considerable amount of time and effort to be effective

2. Create a diversion – Implement an internal social network using a platform like Yammer or MangoApps to channel your team’s addiction to social media into a more productive (and controlled) environment.

  • Pros – employees will benefit from having a space to quickly collaborate, share, and learn from each other
  • Cons – adoption of a niche social platform can be quite difficult to foster, and employees may not necessarily use their personal social channels any less

3. Use the power of social media addiction to better your business – Encourage (or require) employees to utilize relevant social networks like LinkedIn to build relationships with and engage current/future customers.

  • Pros – employees are likely already on these networks and can utilize their existing connections while also connecting with new/existing customers in a more relational way
  • Cons – oversight can be quite difficult (or impossible), and social media issues related to employment law are growing rapidly

Each of the above options have a number of strengths and weaknesses, but there is certainly a growing amount of evidence that social media usage at work actually increases work productivity. Should you choose to try and ban social media use in the workplace at your company, you will join a shrinking group of employers as most companies are now struggling their way through how to manage the inseparable addiction most employees have with their mobile device and social media platforms like instagram, pinterest, twitter, and facebook.

How does your company handle social media use during work hours?