The first thing I do when I wake up is check my social media channels. Periodically throughout the day I check my social media channels. The last thing I do before going to bed is check my social media channels. Can you relate? Deny it if you want, but research shows this is true for most people.

The average person spends around 2.35 hours a day on social media, and 13% of total productivity is lost owing to social media scouring. Influencer marketing agency, Mediakix, ran a survey and calculated that the average person will spend an average of 5 years and 4 months checking their social media channels in their lifetime – can you even comprehend this stat?

While there is no way that we can change this statistic, social media does, and can have, an impact on work productivity. So much so that some companies block their employees from going onto social media networks. I think rather than blindly instituting rules, companies should get to the root cause of the misuse and come up with ways to make work more challenging and the work culture more aspirational and ensure sufficient workload that is measurable and appraised to discourage employees wasting time.

Studies show that employees can spend up to 32% of their work day on social media every day for personal work. Since these figures are likely to not change as the influence of social media is only growing, I think it is imperative, and dare I say strategic, that companies embrace it and make allowances for social media as part of their ethos and company culture.

Part of the debate about social media in the workplace is the perception of what should be happening within standard working hours. We have separated “social” interaction from “work” interaction, seeing them as not only different but in conflict. Twenty odd years ago when I first started dating my now husband, we used to use our employers land lines to talk to each other once a day and I recall us both being called in and moaned at about phone abuse. In those earlier eras, companies discouraged non-business-related calls, and someone who made personal calls all day risked being fired. It was impossible to envision the constant back-and-forth texting that defines interactions among young people today.

The major difference amongst the era’s is that the new generational group in the workplace have the gift for multitasking, because they’ve integrated technology into their lives, their ability to remain connected to each other will serve them and their employers well. While their older colleagues waste time holding meetings, typing minutes to email out a day or so later or engaging in long phone conversations, young people have an ability to sum things up in one-sentence text messages.

Another benefit is the ability to connect and build relationships with colleagues online which has a positive impact on retention, and to connect with clients online which builds loyalty.

I personally think if a company is having an issue with productivity in the workplace and social media is being blamed, they should take a step back and reassess their leadership, as surely this is just a performance management issue as is smoke break abuse, absenteeism, and other disruptions and productivity sappers which need to be managed.