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brain drain

September 27, 2007

Welcome to the world of Web 2.0 (3.0? where are we now? whatever…) Regardless, you…YES YOU! Are probably reading this while you are at WORK! Bad bad bad. Shouldn’t you be doing something PRODUCTIVE? I work in a world where every moment of the day is billable, so it is even more inexcusable to spend the day surfing through blogs and even…(gasp) FACEBOOK. I read an article recently about how many hours are lost per week to people faffing around on Facebook. (Enjoy the UK slang? I knew it…) Which fits with the fact that an Australian study determined that one hour spent on Facebook per day by just one individual would cost the company $6200 per year! That adds up to $5 billion per year! Or, as a UK study estimated, 2,300 hours are “wasted per month, adding up to 130 million pounds of lost billable hours per month. That’s almost $3.2 billion a year.

Most of this, of course, they blame on “young associates”; those irresponsible and “embittered” members of the working class who would rather update their Facebook status than write another report or log in another 15 minutes for client work.

But! Defense is on the way. I’m going to return to the book I’m reading (sorry… but you all really should check it out) and argue that many of us use Facebook as a way of networking and discovering new trends and ideas to actually help, not hinder, our firm. Yes billable hours are important, but as Maister argues, there are going to be a percentage of hours each day that are not billable. Instead of penalizing employees for having non-billable hours each day, why not encourage a certain number of these hours, while thinking creatively about how these hours can be used productively to enhance an employee’s knowledge of clients, emerging trends, and ability to locate potential new clients. We all take time out of our day to seemingly aimlessly search the Web. But what if those hours were not aimless; instead using Facebook and other social media searches or surfing during the day to constructively add value to your career, your client services, and your firm? Facebook and other social media endeavors are not the bane of client services, these activities just need to be harnessed correctly in order to ensure productive use of this time. Guaranteed very few of these young associates view this time they spend on Facebook as meaningless. It is just not billable to a specific client. It is, however, part of the larger networking and communicating role that we are encouraged to engage in. Yes it’s different. But let’s look beyond to see the value it could serve…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 10:36 am

    Interesting post – my background is in the legal profession, and not only do lawyers have to wrestle with the classic challenge of social marketing activity not being chargeable work (if you look on my blog for “chargeable hours” you’ll see I’m not a fan!), there is also an inherent conservatism and aversion to risk that makes many law firms ultra cautious when it comes to social media, and worry about expressing an opinion. In my view there are very few firms that have effectively begun to utilise social media, but there are individual lawyers that use it very well. Those firms that get it right will undoubtedly reap the rewards.

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