Welcome!

Python Authors: Matt Davis, Jyoti Bansal, Pat Romanski, Donald Meyer, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Python, Cognitive Computing , Agile Computing, Release Management

Python: Blog Feed Post

Is Social Media a Hostile Work Environment?

The blurring of professional and personal lives in social media and the rush of organizations to “join in” may create just that

The blurring of professional and personal lives in social media and the rush of organizations to “join in” may create just that.

Almost every modern organization has behavioral policies known as “zero-tolerance” these days. These policies are designed to provide a healthy, productive environment in which anyone can work without fear of being insulted, offended, harassed, or otherwise made uncomfortable on a day to day basis.

Basically, “zero-tolerance” policies are - in part - the codification of the common-sense rule that says you don’t talk about religion, politics, or sex in the work environment. Controversial topics, jokes, images, and words are off-limits even at the water-cooler for anyone who truly endeavors to have a successful professional career and, in many cases, enjoy continued employment.

But when that water cooler goes digital, organizational policies and apparently common sense (and courtesy) end up routed into what amounts to a black-hole, leaving those with a role that includes interfacing with customers and the public via social media working amidst what could be considered a hostile work environment.


THIS. IS. SOCIAL MEDIA!


threemonkeysThe line between personal and professional life are not being slowly blurred out. It is being purposefully broken and snapped into pieces by social media. At the same time “brands” are encouraged – nay, frightened – into participating lest they be seen as uncommunicative and “out of touch” with their customers and modern marketing efforts. The clash between organizational policies and the use of social media as a tool to communicate with customers is painfully obvious when interacting on sites like Twitter and Facebook, where “friends” and “followers” are  really customers, interested parties, influencers, analysts, and the press; many of whom view their persona as a combination of personal and professional, and let the two intermingle freely in their tweets and posts and profiles.

What someone might say in a tweet would never be spoken aloud inside the walls of an organization to another employee. The language and views expressed in many tweets and comments on Facebook pages would almost certainly violate any modern zero-tolerance policy. Yet on Web 2.0 and social media sites across the Internet, such commentary is common.

Many of us participate in social media efforts of our own volition. It is not mandated by the organization nor is it listed as a responsibility of our caution-this-is-spartaroles within the company. But some organizations are moving to including participation in social media as a part of an individual’s job responsibility, opening up some very interesting possibilities.

For example, Pizza Hut’s search for a Twitter intern was widely broadcast through the social media world as a sign that social media as a role within the organization is growing. That’s great for those self-styled social-media “experts” and for those who believe that social media has a larger, more important role to play within a company, as this move validates their views on the role of social media.

But when you’re suddenly required to interact with hundreds and thousands of people in an environment like Twitter; in an environment  where anything goes and there are no corporate policies regarding what’s considered appropriate and what is not; in an environment where personal and professional are equally mixed, you may find yourself in the middle of what could reasonable be considered a hostile environment.

The problem is you may not be able to do anything about it. If your role includes interacting with customers in a social media setting and their language or choice of topics is offensive or hostile toward you or your personal beliefs, you have nowhere to go. You can’t unfollow them because it’s your job to interact with them. There’s no universal zero-tolerance policy in social media because it’s not just professional folks engaging in its use, and there is not – and should not be – any such policy governing the expression of opinion outside the workplace.


MAKING IT OFFICIAL


There is a very real danger in making the use of social media an “official” part of a person’s role within the organization without guidelines and expectations. When one chooses to interact via social media they bear the responsibility. They can follow and unfollow at will, and they can always decide it’s too hostile for them and choose not to interact. I know I have, many times, and will likely continue to do so. It’s my choice. But when it’s made part of their job responsibility, can they? If your job responsibility requires you to interact with people who may be creating a hostile work environment, organizations may be setting themselves up for some ugly legal consequences (IANAL). One of the definitions of a “hostile work environment” is that the victim must believe that enduring the hostility is a requirement for keeping their employment, which means making interacting with social media a part of an employee’s role – such as Pizza Hut’s Twitter intern position - could, potentially, lead to legal issues.

In that respect, perhaps Jennifer Leggio’s recent un-call for a CSMO (Chief Social Media Officer) is a better idea than it first seems. With oversight within the organization, corporate governance over employee’s actions as well as remediation steps might be more clearly identified. For example, if my responsibility is to monitor and respond on behalf of the “brand” on Twitter, am I allowed to “unfollow” customers who are offensive? Who use rude and vulgar language? Who are hostile? Am I required to subject myself to insulting and offensive conversations in order to perform my job? How am I allowed to respond if I choose to do so? Can I choose to respond? And what are my responsibilities? What kind of conversation should I, as a corporate representative, be engaging in?

Outside the organization, the answers to these questions are not so clear and it is just those answers we need before we start officially making social media a part of someone’s job description. Expectations when dealing with a hostile environment should be set clearly up front; what is and is not allowed on the part of the employee when responding (or even if they should respond), for example, should be decided before the situation arises. The possibility of hostility should be clearly discussed with employees before sending them “to the front lines” to ensure their personality is one that can/is willing to deal with such scenarios based on organizational decisions guiding interaction.

These kinds of policies have long existed at organizations that run a call-center/technical support for consumers. These types of interactions are nothing new to consumer-oriented tech support folks, as they’ve been dealing with them via e-mail and by telephone for years. But for many organizations the need for such a policy, training, or at least guidance may be new and a surprise. It needs to be a part of the process when moving forward with a full-blown social media presence.

It would be so much easier if people just used common sense and exercised some basic courtesy toward their fellow social media inmates, wouldn’t it?

[pause for laughter]

Exactly. That’s why organizations should start thinking about how an individual can and should interact within the Web 2.0 world and social media before they make it an “official” part of someone’s role.

 

Follow me on Twitter View Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeedicon_facebook AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

 

 

Related blogs & articles

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...