Using social networks may not harm productivityHR departments may be under pressure from employers to ban the use of social networks in the workplace in order to increase productivity, however, such a move may be counter productive according to one sector commentator.

Erik Qualman, in a post for online resource Search Engine Watch, likened banning social network access in the workplace to the film Footloose starring Kevin Bacon, in which rock music and dancing is banned.

He said that one day it is likely people will also look at banning social networks as "rather silly", noting that accessing emails and even the internet was once disallowed in many offices.

"Banning something like social media could send the wrong message to employees and potential recruits as a company that ‘doesn’t get it’," Mr Qualman stated.

He also spoke to Dr Brent Coker from the Department of Management and Marketing at the University of Melbourne, who claimed that short, unobtrusive breaks to surf the internet allowed workers’ minds to rest, which could boost productivity.

Google recently announced on its blog that computer users will now be able to search their social networks, alongside regular sites, on the search engine.