London, Oct 30 : Even though companies consider the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo during work to be a waste of time, a new study has revealed that it can actually be beneficial for the company.
The research carried out by think tank Demos found that if an attempt was made to control the employees' use of such websites, it could damage the firms in the long run by limiting the way staffs communicate.
The sites are said to be useful in encouraging employees to build relationships with colleagues across a firm, but it also comes with a warning where businesses are concerned.
The research found that firms are increasingly using networking software to share documents and collaborate in ideas.
And while more work-specific systems, such as LinkedIn or bespoke in-house software tended to be used for work matters, the likes of Facebook, Bebo and MySpace still had a place, said Demos researcher Peter Bradwell.
"They are part of the way in which people communicate which they find intuitive," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships.
"In today's difficult business environment, the instinctive reaction can be to batten down the hatches and return to the traditional command-and-control techniques that enable managers to closely monitor and measure productivity.
"Allowing workers to have more freedom and flexibility might seem counter-intuitive, but it appears to create businesses more capable of maintaining stability," he added.
The popularity of social networking showed that there was a desire to connect with others and socialise, said Mark Turrell, chief executive of Imaginatik, which develops bespoke networking software.
"Being able to see a photo of colleagues, or knowing what they are up to, can be incredibly useful for businesses, especially if a firm employs thousands of people," Turrell, whose firm took part in the study, said.