A joint study by Easynet and Ipanema Technologies has found that a majority of CIOs and IT bosses block access to social networks and video-sharing sites during office hours, with UK business leaders marginally more likely than their continental counterparts to restrict Internet usage during the work day.
Facebook is the most blocked website with 69 per cent of British-based administrators prohibiting in-office access, while 62 per cent give the red light to YouTube. Professional network LinkedIn is unsurprisingly the least embargoed, with only 20 per cent of enterprise supremoes branding it a no-no, though 45 per cent do go as far as banning private email accounts.
Social media insiders are understandably concerned by the research, with some venturing that CIOs risk alienating customers, demotivating staff, and creating subpar marketing strategies by failing to embrace the latest methods of networking and information distribution.
"It's a risky business to block social media networks and I'm genuinely shocked at the statistic showing how many companies do this. The return on investment for social media is that your business will still be here in five years' time. Half the human race is under 30, and has never known a world without the Internet. For these people the Internet, and social media along with it, is a way of life," said Lisa Myers, CEO of social media and search optimisation agency Verve Search.
"The gap between Generation X and Generation Y is becoming a chasm. Social media is oxygen to anyone under 30 and it's vital for communication, education and information. It has huge implications on business success," added Justin Fielder, Easynet's CTO.
Twitter is apparently seen as marginally more acceptable than Facebook, with just over half of the enterprise big wigs surveyed saying they barred access to it. On the whole, UK business leaders are more block-happy than CIOs in Europe, except when it comes to online video – only 46 per cent of bosses in Blighty outlaw it in the workplace, as opposed to 56 per cent on the mainland.
The findings come despite indications that social networks and businesses are becoming increasingly enmeshed.
"Microsoft's recent purchase of business social networking site Yammer demonstrates the importance of social networking in the workplace, but it seems that European CIOs have some catching up to do," claimed Thierry Grenot, Executive Vice President at Ipanema Technologies.
The findings, produced as part of a larger application performance study dubbed Killer Apps 2012, come shortly after an uproar in the popular British press regarding the prospect of civil servants deploying social networks like Facebook to aid public consultations.
The issue is particularly relevant given the arrival of the 2012 Olympics, which kicks off today in Cardiff with a women's football match pitting Team GB against New Zealand.
For one, the findings cast a serious doubt on whether or not workers in London and across the country will be able to tune in to their nation's moment of glory due to draconian bosses shunning one of the Internet's most dynamic uses. Moreover, they once again highlight the importance of formulating appropriate social media policies in business, sport, and beyond.