Tweeting an office joke, Instagramming a meeting, Facebooking a photo of employees hanging out together—these can all be frowned upon in the workforce, depending on the type of company, but why? Studies show that 77% of employees are using social media at work whether it’s banned or not. If you have outdated social media policies in your workplace, they should likely be updated. In this day and age, employers should focus on how to channel the benefits of social media instead of spending time and energy trying to prevent employees from using it.

Distractions can be Helpful

Distractions were always inevitable as a child, but as a working adult, they’re almost needed. People aren’t meant to focus on one task for eight hours a day, and taking small breaks can be beneficial for the mind. In fact, sometimes our best problem solving can happen when we take a step away from the task at hand.

Getting on social media for a moment and scrolling mindlessly through feeds can give employees’ brains a chance to go on autopilot. This can let employees decompress and allow them to return back to their work with fresh eyes. Those ten minutes of downtime can actually be an investment for your company.

Social media can also simplify the breaks allotted for employees. Instead of “needing” something to do to fill this time, such as talking to other employees, workers can now take an easy break when and wherever they choose.

Personal Branding

Personal branding ties in with your company’s branding efforts. As you’ve probably used social media to achieve this, employees can also use social media as an outlet for their respective personal brands. Although all of your employees within the company have their own followers and their own presence on social media, they can all be tied back to your core corporate brand.

Think about it. If your company has ten employees, and they’re all posting company photos and sharing public business information, you can gain a much larger audience than if you had just posted the information solely on your company’s social media pages.

Personal brands can also be trusted more by the public than corporate brands. Why? Because people are seen as easier to approach, friendlier and more genuine. This means that, if given the opportunity, your employees can serve as brand ambassadors for your company with each of their interactions, and those interactions can have enormous potential to increase the visibility of your company.

Strengthens Relationships with Coworkers

Coworkers can use social media to interact with one another and build better relationships. Stronger relationships among employees can lead to more cohesive work teams, increased productivity and employee retention, which all benefit the company.

Social media is a cost-free and easy way to encourage communication between employees and help to increase engagement and idea sharing.

With social media taking over, it’s best to encourage your employees to use it in a productive way rather than telling them it’s not allowed. Of course, there are some employees who may abuse the rules, but by demonstrating and reinforcing the ways that social media can improve the workplace, it can be a great tool.