A growing number of employees think more socialization in the office is the key to success, new research shows.
The study by Microsoft found that nearly half of employees worldwide think social tools at work, like those for communicating with colleagues and sharing and reviewing documents, help increase their productivity. Additionally, 40 percent believe these tools help foster better teamwork.
Employees are so eager for social media tools in the workplace that they would pay for it themselves. More than 30 percent of those surveyed said they are willing to spend their own money on such tools.
Charlene Li, founder and analyst at Altimeter Group, a firm that studies social media and other technology trends, said while employees have already been bringing their own devices into their workplaces, they're now increasingly bringing their own services as well.
"Employees expect to work differently, with tools that feel more modern and connected, but are also reflective of how they interact in their personal lives," Li said. "Enterprise social represents a new way to work, and organizations embracing these tools are improving collaboration, speeding customer responses and creating competitive advantages."
Despite employee enthusiasm regarding social tools at work, more than 30 percent of companies underestimate their value and often restrict their use. Employers cite concerns over security and productivity loss as top reasons for restricting the use of social tools.
Specifically, financial services and government employees are most likely to have limitations placed on their use of social tools, which researchers attribute to the high level of regulation in those sectors.
Researchers found men are finding more benefit in the tools' use, with men more likely than women to attribute higher productivity levels to social tools in a professional setting.
"Just as email accelerated the pace of business in the '90s, enterprise social will be the driver of greater agility and transformation in the 21st-century workplace," said Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft Office Division. "As we look ahead at how collaboration and communications continue to evolve, we believe the tools people use today — email, instant messaging, voice, videoconferencing, social — will come together and be deeply integrated into apps in ways that will speed collaboration and truly transform the way people work."
The study was based on surveys of nearly 10,000 employees working at companies across 32 different counties, including the United States.