Flourishing and Facebook Friends

The month’s Positive Psychology News Daily article focuses on Positive Psychology and using social networking sites like Facebook. Of course social networking cannot replace real face-to-face human interaction (as Aren Cohen wrote in his comment, a Facebook hug is not the same as real one), however it is a hugely powerful technology for connecting people across the globe in a way that has never been possible before.

From an organisational perspective, social networking is vastly underrated. You may be sceptical, but it’s the perfect means to engage staff in the workplace. That’s not necessarily to say that you should allow 24/7 access to Facebook (although some companies do), but that you should consider how to use the technology to create meaningful micro-communities, where social bonds can be built across the organisational hierarchy and information can be shared.

Technology can be humanising, and the psychological research supports that – for instance, did you know that groups engage in more social interaction when the interaction takes place through email/online than they do working in face-to-face groups?

IBM is one example of a company which has embraced the power of social networking technology, and is reaping huge rewards. By building the “Beehive”, it’s own social networking site, IBM is successfully creating a sense of community amongst its employees, despite its vast size. (To find articles on Beehive, click here and search for ‘Beehive’).

So if you’re serious about engagement and building social connections in your workplace, think seriously about social networking.

UPDATE Dec 2009: Dr Jonathan Passmore and I have just published ‘The Facebook Manager: The psychology and practice of web-based social networking’.

Image: Luc Legay

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