Social Tools at Work Are in Demand

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Redmond, Wash. — May 28

Nearly half of employees report that social tools at work help increase productivity, according to a new study, and more than 30 percent of companies underestimate the value of these tools and often restrict their use.

The survey, conducted for Microsoft Corp. by research firm Ipsos among 9,908 information workers in 32 countries, also found that 39 percent of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces, and 40 percent believe social tools help foster better teamwork. More surprisingly, 31 percent said they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.

The research also found distinct differences between countries, sectors and genders as they relate to the levels of productivity, collaboration and communication tools used in today’s workplace.

Employees in the Asia Pacific region were most likely to attribute higher productivity levels to the increased use of social tools, followed by Latin America and Europe, according to the research. Employees in Latin America, however, were most likely to credit social tools with greater collaboration in the workplace, followed by the Asia Pacific region and Europe.

Greater proportions of workers in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region are using social tools — and with greater frequency. In contrast, those in North America and Europe have been slower in adopting many social tools, according to the research.

Financial services and government employees are most likely to say their company places restrictions on the use of social tools, likely due to the high level of regulation in those sectors.

Moreover, professionals in financial services (74 percent) and government (72 percent) are more likely than those in other fields to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, according to the research. Meanwhile, those working in retail (59 percent) and travel and hospitality (57 percent) are more likely to blame productivity loss.

Men are also more likely than women to attribute higher productivity levels to social tools in a professional setting. Women are more likely than men to believe their company restricts the use of social tools.

Men are more likely than women to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, while women are more likely to blame productivity loss, according to the research.

Source: Microsoft Corp.

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