Poking fun and a collective sense of identity is important for social networks in workplaces

Social networks in workplaces

Converting tacit to explicit knowledge and providing context to information are two important areas, which are often overlooked when using social networks in workplaces.

The use of social media and social networking has become part of our daily lives as consumers. We use social media in myriad different ways from daily interactions, conversations to sharing pictures and videos.

From a personal point of view, social media keeps us entertained as consumers. But when it comes to a professional setting, the question that comes to our mind is that, is social media viewed in the same way from an organizational context as well?

We use the word ‘Social networks’ and ‘Social media’ interchangeably in this article. A detailed explanation on the difference between the two is found on this resource page.

Benefits of  social platform in workplaces

There are inherent benefits of using social networks in workplaces.

There are various sources and the Internet is replete with the of-repeated benefits of community building and collaboration. Often, the nitty-gritty’s of what actually works and makes the usage of social media worthwhile isn’t discussed often from an employee perspective.

Employees have a different perspective from the management of the company on the usage of social media. Employees love the spirit of community.

Active usage of social media within the work environment nurtures a sharing community. It is through this community that employees like to discuss their problems and issues and seek solutions. Social capital is built through such interactions. Social capital is needed for a strong bond among colleagues and employees within a team to get the work done.

A good article from our blog discusses the important benefits of social networks in workplaces. The article is all about viewing social media from an employee perspective.

In a study conducted by a firm called Dynamic markets, 74% of employees said that the two biggest benefits of social networks in workplaces is

1. Gaining knowledge to solve problems at work.

2. having a collaborative team spirit among employees.

Social media has always been about building a community.

But in the workplaces, the management would be more happy to see it as a form of collaboration among employees. The word ‘collaboration’ rings bells as it brings results and profits.  And this is the very reason why the social media software in big corporates are called ‘social collaboration’.

The article talks about 5 different areas which add significant value and benefits to the organization. The most significant among them for today’s discussion would be on the aspects of converting tacit to explicit knowledge using social media and providing valuable context to information.

The organization generates knowledge all the time. There is tacit as well as explicit knowledge. Organization’s explicit knowledge is found in all the procedures and processes but it is the tacit knowledge, in the minds of the employees, forms the intellectual capital of the organization.

Sharing this intellectual capital is a big challenge. The effective usage of social media in an organization lies in the aspect of converting tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

Sharing the context surrounding the information helps in this conversion.

Employees are not interested in knowing about the mission and vision of the organization They are more interested in being in the good books for their manager and getting the job done.

In such environments, a sense of collective identity is important. When an organization fosters a work environment which has a sense of collective identity through the usage of social media, then that organization has a good chance of their employees sharing tacit knowledge.

Social media is a channel and it encourages employees for knowledge sharing.

Within this context, another important area for social media benefits within an organization, which is often overlooked is the aspect of providing valuable context to information.

By context, we often refer to such questions such as “who did it” and “What were the challenges” etc. It adds the human element to the information. When there is work -life balance and a balance of fun and work, there is every chance that employees will share the context surrounding the information.

Age old knowledge management systems were good in knowledge capture and elicitation. But when it comes to applying the knowledge immediately, Knowledge management fails. Because it lacks the human element of ‘context’.

A good example of a context providing exercise among senior leadership teams is the OST (open space technology). OST is often used in leadership offsite session to discuss problems at hand and generate ideas around the context of the problems and issues. Such exercises allow us to develop appropriate solutions much more easily.

Context provides the ‘know how’. Effective use of social networks in workplaces can facilitate the flow of context to the information. Employees are more happy with the appropriate context information which can be used immediately rather than general information on a specific subject.


The article originally appeared in Medium  last year written by the same author.


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Ramkumar Yaragarla

I am 43 years old. Founder, Loving dad and Husband. Worked as an IT Business analyst and program manager in several Fortune 100 companies.Alumnus at the University of Warwick, UK. I love the WWW and write on Social aspects of information, Social collaboration, Digital Sociology, Digital Humanities and Work life balance. I enjoy playing on the beach with my 9 year old daughter. I am open to your suggestions and comments.
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