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Should I Add My Colleagues on Social Media?

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  • Should I Add My Colleagues on Social Media?

    In a world dominated by instantaneous information-sharing and remote employment platforms, it’s little wonder that the colleagues with whom we spend the majority of our workday may request to follow us on social media. After all, you’re bound to make a friend or two when working with them for forty hours a week. Those colleagues will hear about your weekend adventures anyway, so why not connect with them through your social media platform?

    Employees have long communicated with each other through digital means, including instant messaging and sharing memes, GIFs, and emojis. Does that mean it's in your best professional interest to connect with your coworkers online? Your values, views, and behaviours via your social media accounts do give your bosses, colleagues, and potential employers insight into your character. There is no clear right or wrong here unless your employment contract states otherwise. Here are some reasons to add your colleagues on social media and some equally valid reasons to keep your personal life private.

    What are the benefits of adding colleagues on social media?

    A primary benefit of adding colleagues on social media is developing and strengthening your friendship with each other outside of work. A stronger sense of teamwork can emerge as well as opportunities to communicate with each other more effectively. Recent studies show that social media connections between coworkers frequently relates to a company’s goals and organization. Connecting on social media may also help you bond with colleagues over shared interests and hobbies.

    Colleagues who follow each other on social media can contribute positively to their company’s overall culture. Strong company cultures encourage employees to be excited to come to work and participate in the company mission. Friendships amongst colleagues can be a significant motivator in work attendance and work ethic.

    Why shouldn’t you follow your coworkers on social media?

    A primary concern for some workers is their privacy and a need to have a clear boundary between their work and personal lives. Just as the International Career Institute recommends a separation between work and study for students, a break from work and collegial relationships is necessary to maintain a healthy work-life balance for some employees.

    Privacy may be important to you, especially if you share private or controversial information via your social media accounts (religion, sex, politics, etc.). A good rule to follow is if you post information online that you wouldn’t be comfortable discussing at work, don’t add your colleagues on social media.

    Additionally, there can be ramifications to your inter-office relationships if you engage with colleagues through social media, especially with managers or bosses whose decisions can impact your current and future employment. Connections in more professional social media platforms, such as Linkedin or Slack, may be more appropriate for work.

    What to know before you add your coworkers on social media

    If you are still unsure about whether to invite some of your colleagues on social media, ask yourself a few questions before you click the “accept” button:
    • How well do you know this colleague? It’s one thing if you are friends outside of work, but avoid automatically connecting with a coworker you haven’t met or don’t know that well.
    • Review your regular social media content. Is it work-oriented, personal, or just general? How much of it are you comfortable sharing with bosses and fellow workers?
    • Are your co-workers sensitive? If you connect with some of them online, but not others, will that selectivity leave you susceptible to office rumours and gossip, or potentially weaken or damage relationships with those other colleagues?
    • Do not rush to accept a colleague’s request. Take your time before you click.
    • Remember that it is fine to add or accept connection from colleagues on one social media platform, but not another. You choose the medium with which you are most comfortable. Again, more professionally-oriented platforms are the safest bet.

    Should you choose to add your coworkers on social media, examine this point first to avoid regrettable decisions afterward. Make sure you are comfortable with these colleagues viewing the contents of your profile and feed. If you use social media to espouse personal beliefs about controversial subjects, share intimate photos of yourself or your family, or if you are a naturally private person, you may wish to think twice before connecting with colleagues on social media.

    How do you say no to your colleagues?

    There is a certain amount of risk involved with accepting a coworker or boss’ social media request, and you are within your rights to refuse. What are the best ways to do this without burning any bridges at the office?

    Be honest about your choice, and then be consistent about it. Politely state that you prefer to keep your professional life distinctly separate from your social media accounts. If it’s easier, you may wish to maintain a strictly professional account on a social media platform and another account for your personal life, one that you keep “locked.” In this way, you can accept requests from colleagues on your professional accounts only.

    Choose wisely when accepting colleagues’ requests.

    Always run through the above questions before you invite or accept a colleague’s social media request. You have more power and control over your online accounts than you think. If at any time you are uncertain about connecting with your boss or your coworkers over social media, don’t do it. Decline requests and pursue other means by which to connect to your colleagues in the office professionally. By approaching this situation wisely, you can protect yourself professionally and strengthen collegial bonds at the same time.

    • Gerhard
      #12
      Gerhard commented
      Editing a comment
      I'd prefer to keep my personal life out of work life. There has to be some privacy or drawing the line some where but there can always be exceptions to such rules. Privacy still outweighs having new friends from the office.

    • Alex_Ivanovski
      #13
      Alex_Ivanovski commented
      Editing a comment
      Somehow I dont think its the best idea as certain complications can occur. Work is work and private life is in most cases outside of work.

    • Gerhard
      #14
      Gerhard commented
      Editing a comment
      Usual complications or casualties from this type of scenarios is office romance. Maybe not 99.9% of the time but probably 70% colleagues end up in a relationship from the moment they "add" each other on social media and fan the sparks of romance.

      "Social Media leads to closeness, closeness leads to familiarity, familiarity leads to romance, romance leads to the altar or destruction"
    Posting comments is disabled.

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