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Facebook and Twitter at the Office = Improved Productivity?

Hey, boss: Do you cringe when you think of employees spending valuable company time on Facebook and Twitter? Might be time to rethink that position: According to this month's issue of Wired, a little social networking might actually boost worker productivity.

The argument goes like this:

Studies that accuse social networks of reducing productivity assume that time spent microblogging is time strictly wasted. But that betrays an ignorance of the creative process. Humans weren't designed to maintain a constant focus on assigned tasks. We need periodic breaks to relieve our conscious minds of the pressure to perform -- pressure that can lock us into a single mode of thinking. Musing about something else for a while can clear away the mental detritus, letting us see an issue through fresh eyes, a process that creativity researchers call incubation.
Got that, boss? I'm not goofing off -- I'm incubating! Actually, I think my brain cells benefit more from, say, stepping away from my desk for a brisk 10-minute walk, but I definitely agree there are benefits to briefly shifting your focus.

For example, when I reach the point where I simply can't generate any more written words, I go watch a segment of The Daily Show or hop on my elliptical. By the time I get back to my desk, I'm ready to crank out more copy.

Of course, those activities have nothing to do with social networking. Which begs the question: What do you think about Wired's assertion? On the money or off the mark? Share your thoughts in the comments -- and then get back to work!