Don't trust your colleagues? Get on Facebook, IM

'It's social media darling... '

'It's social media darling... '

Social media apps such as Facebook, IM and their ilk can have a positive impact on office life and help workers get on better with their colleagues, according to new research.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK office workers do not work in the same physical place as most of their immediate colleagues - and many of those with access to social media technologies claim to use them to maintain strong relationships with colleagues and even clients, according to research carried out by The Work Foundation (TWF) for BT Global Services.

Close to half (45 per cent) of respondents said they use one or more social media technologies on a daily basis.

And while face-to-face contact is still vital - remaining the most heavily used form of communication - the study found employees who regularly use social apps at work are more likely to trust their immediate colleagues, wherever they are working from.

Report author and associate director at TWF, Alexandra Jones, told silicon.com: "They're not causal links, so you can't say that because you've got social media then everyone's going to be more trusting and definitely relationships will be improved.

"But we were surprised by quite how positive it did seem to be. And what was interesting was that where people did have access to social media they did seem to be using it to really foster some of those trust relationships and exchange ideas in a way that was really beneficial."

Jones added that workers are taking a smart approach to new comms - using them to complement, not replace, traditional communication methods like face-to-face confabs, phone calls and email.

The report also found workers use different comms tools depending on who they are communicating with and the task at hand - 69 per cent of workers with IM access use it to contact immediate colleagues, yet only 12 per cent message clients, for example.

The research also revealed that while young and old alike are using new comms techs, older workers are more likely to be grumbling about it.

"The older you are, we found the more likely you are to dislike technology... but it doesn't affect whether you use it - so if you're older then you're more likely not to like it but, regardless of age, people are using tech," said Jones.