Trade Talk: Should you ‘friend’ your co-workers on Facebook?

Are your co-workers Facebook friends?

According to a recent national survey, more than 70 percent of office workers of companies with 20 or more employees think it’s OK. But most managers don’t.

Of 1,000 employees and 300 senior managers polled by independent research firms for Menlo, California-based OfficeTeam staffing company, 71 percent of workers think it’s fair game to connect with colleagues on Facebook, though 51 percent of managers disagree.

Meanwhile, fewer workers and managers think it’s OK to follow co-workers on other platforms — including Twitter, 61 percent and 34 percent, respectively; Instagram, 56 percent and 30 percent; and Snapchat, 44 percent and 26 percent. Not surprisingly, employees ages 18 to 34 are most receptive to engaging with colleagues online; 80 percent feel it’s appropriate on Facebook.

My friends on Facebook could see both sides.

“It’s kind of hard to call in ‘sick’ (cough, cough) if the boss or a co-worker sees the trophy bass you caught the same day on Facebook,” Rex Cox said.

Conversely, Midwest City classmate Robert Moody, who’s now a professor at a Kansas college, is all for it.

“I am connected with every group I have been a part of since elementary school. It has helped me maintain current relationships, as well as reconnect with older ones from the past. Co-workers are no different as we get to enjoy each other’s family pix,” Moody said.

Christine Ozee said she, at a former job in Lawton, witnessed a co-worker’s Facebook connection with their manager backfire.

“She took the day off to take her husband to an appointment at the VA Hospital in Oklahoma City and our manager got upset when the co-worker posted a picture from the Thunder game that evening. She didn’t think it was appropriate to do anything fun if you were taking time off work for an appointment during the day,” she said.

In her current position, Ozee said she “friends” very few co-workers and no managers.

Meanwhile, former newspaper co-worker Beverly Bryant said Facebook connections help her public information work at Oklahoma State University.

“Our office hasn’t had any problems,” Bryant said, “In fact, it’s extremely handy to message the people I need to notify if I am sick, late or out of the office for work.”

Scott Collier, division director for OfficeTeam staffing firm in Oklahoma City, recommends connecting with care.

“While the lines between our personal and professional lives continue to blur, not everyone is comfortable connecting with colleagues on social media,” Collier said.

Before friending someone, check if the person has other co-workers in their networks, Collier said. When in doubt, let co-workers make the first move, he said.

Here are his other tips:

• Consider suggesting that colleagues join your network on professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn.

• Establish separate “work” or “professional” lists and adjust privacy settings. This will filter your content as necessary and help protect your professional image.

• Don’t overshare with your updates and photos. Untag yourself from and remove questionable images.

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