Employee Use of Social Media for Private Affairs during Working Hours

Johanna Gunnlaugsdottir


Many organizations have open access to social media (SM), granting employee access at work. The purpose of the study was to find out whether the respondents used SM for private reasons at work, how much time they devoted to such use, and what was the attitude of managers and the employees themselves toward such use. The study was undertaken during 2013-2014 using a questionnaire survey. Open-ended interviews added a third dimension. The main findings were that employees used a considerable part of their working hours for personal SM use. The majority felt that managers objected to such use but an even larger majority believed that such use by their own was unacceptable.


social media; Facebook; information management; human resource management, Iceland

Full Text:



Abril, P. S., Levin, A. & Del Riego, A. (2012). Blurred boundaries: Social media privacy and the twenty-first-century employee. American Business Law Journal, 49(1), 63-124.

Allen, D. K. & Shoard, M. (2005). Spreading the load: Mobile information and communication technologies and their effect on information overload. Information Research, 10(2). Retrieved from http://informationr.net/ir/10-2/paper227.html.

ARMA International. (2012). Using Social Media in Organizations: A Technical Report prepared by ARMA International with ANSI August 2012: Overland Park, KS: ARMA International.

Barnes, N. G. & Andonian, J. (2012). The 2011 Fortune 500 and Social Media Adoption: Have American’s largest Companies reached a Social Media Plateau? North Dartmouth, MA: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Binder, P. & Mansfield, N. R. (2013). Social networks and workplace risk: Classroom scenarios from a U.S. and EU perspective. Journal of Legal Studies Education, 30(1), 1-44.

Blanchard, A. L. & Henle, C. A. (2008). Correlates of different forms of cyberloafing: The role of norms and external locus of control, Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 1067-1084.

Bogdan, R. C. & Biklen, S. K. (2003). Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theory and Methods (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Brice, R., Fifer, S. & Naron, G. (2012). Social media in the workplace: The NLRB speaks. Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 24(10), 13-17.

Bucciol, A., Houser, D. & Piovesan, M. (2013). Temptation at work. PLoS ONE, 8(1), 1-5.

Esterberg, K. G. (2002). Qualitative Methods in Social Research. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Garrett, K. R. & Danziger, J. N. (2008). On cyberslacking: Workplace status and personal Internet use at work. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 11(3), 287-292.

Gibson, J. (2013, 17-23 June). Get stuck in to the world wide web. ICIS Chemical Business, 21-22.

Gorman, G. E. & Clayton, P. (2005). Qualitative Research for the Information Professional: A Practical Handbook (2nd ed.). London: Facet Publishing.

Hajli, N. (2015). Social commerce constructs and consumer’s intention to buy. International Journal of Information Management, 35, 183-191.

Handy, C. (1991). The Age of Unreason. London: Century Business.

Handy, C. (2003-2015). Working wisdom … have it, grow it, use it. Retrieved from http://www.pattiwilson.net/charles-handy.html.

Hennink, M., Hutter, I. & Bailey, A. (2011). Qualitative Research Methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Ivarsson, L. & Larsson, P. (2011-2012). Personal Internet usage at work: A source of recovery. Journal of Workplace Rights, 16(1), 63-81.

Jacobson, W. S. & Tufts, S. H. (2013). To post or not to post: Employee rights and social media. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 33(1), 84-107.

Jian, G. (2013). Understanding the wired workplace: The effects of job characteristics on employees’ personal online communication at work. Communication Research Reports, 30(1), 22-33.

Kaplan, A. M. & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! the challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53, 59-68.

Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Liberman, B., Seidman, G., McKenna, K.Y.A. & Buffardi, L.E. (2011). Employee job attitudes and organizational characteristics and predictors of cyberloafing. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 2192-2199.

Mäkinen, S. (2013). ‘Some records manager will take care of it’: records management in the context of mobile work. Journal of Information Science, 39(3), 384-396.

Mäkinen, S. & Henttonen, P. (2011). Motivations for records management in mobile work. Records Management Journal, 27(3), 188-204.

Mello, J. A. (2012). Social media, employee privacy and concerted activity: Brave new word or big brother? Labor Law Journal, 63(3), 165-179.

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

NARA. (2010). A report on federal Web 2.0 use and record value. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/resources/web2.0-use.pdf.

Neuman, W. L. (2011). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Ngai, E. W. T, Tao, S. S. C. & Moon, K. K. L. (2015). Social media research: Theories, constructs, and conceptual frameworks. International Journal of Information Management, 35, 33-34.

Rishika, R., Kumar, A., Janakiraman, R. & Bezawda, R. (2013). The effect of customers’ social media participation on customer visit Frequency and profitability: An empirical investigation. Information Systems Research, 24(1), 108-127.

Saunders, M., Lewis, L., & Thornhill, A. (2003). Research Methods for Business Students (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Schmidt, G. B. & O’Connor, K. W. (2015). Fired for Facebook: Using NLRB guidance to craft appropriate social media policies. Business Horizons, 58, 571-579.

Schwandt, T. A. (1997). Qualitative Inquiry: A Dictionary of Terms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Scott, D. M. (2008). Trust your employees (or fire them). EContent, 31(8), 48.

Scott, P. R. & Jacka, J. M. (2011). Auditing Social Media: A Governance and Risk Guide. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Sedghi, A. (2014, 4 February). Facebook: 10 years of social networking, in numbers. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/feb/04/facebook-in-numbers-statistics.

Smith, W. P. & Tabak, F. (2009). Monitoring employee e-mails: Is there any room for privacy? Academy of Management Perspectives, 23(4), 33-48.

Statistics Iceland [Hagstofa Islands]. (2014). Tourism, transport and IT 2013. Statistical Series [Hagtidindi], 99(1), 1-25. Retrieved from http://old.statice.is/Pages/452?itemid=9302f0f0-a6d0-49fe-9f7e-1e5d9beb5c15.

Statistics Iceland [Hagstofa Islands]. (2015). Tourism, transport and IT 2014. Statistical Series [Hagtidindi], 100 (1), 1-25. Retrieved from http://old.statice.is/Pages/452?itemid=f8bfd5a8-1c7c-4cec-9ac8-4d1d2492087b.

Thorlindsson, T. & Karlsson, T. (2003). On samples and sample selection [Um urtok og urtaksadferdir]. In S. Halldorsdottir & K. Kristjansson (Eds.), A handbook on methodology and research in health sciences (pp. 51-66) [Handbok i adferdafraedi og rannsoknum í heilbrigdisvisindum]. Akureyri: University of Akureyri, 51-66.

van Dijck, J. (2013). ‘You have one identity’: Performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media Culture & Society, 35(2), 199-215.

Villegas, E. B. (2016). Facebook and its disappearing posts: Data collection approaches on fan-pages for social scientists. The Journal of Social Media in Society, 5(11), 160-188. Retrieved from http://thejsms.org/index.php/TSMRI/article/view/142.

Vitak, J., Crouse, J. & LaRose, R. (2011). Personal internet use at work: Understanding cyberslacking. Computes in Human Behavior, 27, 1751-1759.

Williamson, A. (2013). Social Media Guidelines for Prliaments. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.

World Economic Forum. (2014). The global information technology report 2014: Rewards and risks of big data. Geneva: Word Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalInformationTechnology_Report_2014.pdf.

Zikmund, W. G., Badin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business Research Methods (9th ed.). International Edition: South-Western, Cengage Learning.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business, and Graduate Studies.