Can Your Boss be Your Facebook Friend?

August 20, 2009 ( - Social networking sites may be popular these days, but a new survey points out one area where bringing them into the workplace could prove awkward - being Facebook friends with your supervisor or direct reports.

A news release from staffing firm OfficeTeam said its poll found 48% of supervisors were uncomfortable friending people they manage while 47% similarly got the willies from the prospect of friending those who manage them. Forty-one percent of respondents were uncomfortable with friending co-workers, 50% didn’t relish the thought of friending a client, and 62% were not comfortable with friending a vendor.

On the other end of the spectrum, 19% had no problem with friending their boss, 13% their co-workers, 12% with direct reports, 7% clients, and 6% vendors.

“The line between personal and professional has grown increasingly blurred as more people use social networking Web sites for business purposes,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, in the news release. “Although not everyone is comfortable using sites like Facebook to connect with professional contacts, it’s wise to be prepared for these types of requests.”

Hosking advises employees on Facebook to be sure they are in compliance with their employer’s social networking policy. They should then familiarize themselves with privacy settings and create different friend lists to control how — and with whom — information is shared. “Individuals should classify their professional contacts into a ‘work’ list and limit what personal details this group can view,” said Hosking.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

"How comfortable would you feel about being 'friended' by the following individuals on Facebook?"

Your Your People you

Boss coworkers manage Clients Vendors

Very comfortable 19% 13% 12% 7% 6%

Somewhat comfortable 28% 38% 32% 34% 23%

Not very comfortable 15% 13% 15% 17% 24%

Not comfortable at all 32% 28% 33% 33% 38%

Don't know 6% 8% 8% 9% 9%