TROY, MICH.—The proliferation of social media, and in particular, the blurring of personal and professional networks is causing unease among workers, with almost 30 percent globally, now believing it is acceptable to use social media for personal use while at work. But how does that apply to virtual office workers?

First, let’s look at the big picture. Workers express serious reservations about the spread of social media into work. Forty-three percent agree that it impacts adversely on productivity while 47 percent also express concern that mixing personal and professional connections through social media could lead to problems in the workplace. So says the latest survey results from the Kelly Global Workforce Index.

Here are some additional findings from the survey:

  • 24% say it’s acceptable to share opinions about work with friends and colleagues on social media.

  • 12% have been told to stop using social media at work.

  • 30% are more inclined to search for jobs via social media than through traditional methods such as newspapers, online job boards and recruitment firms.

So, here’s the deal. A mere 12 percent have been told to stop using social media at work. But when you work in a virtual office environment, it’s less obvious what you are doing with your time. At the same time, some people have to use social media as part of their jobs, especially if they are in communications fields. Is quickly checking a personal message from your virtual office a big deal?

I think the key for the virtual office user is to stay focused, just like any other worker in any other environment. Ultimately, virtual office workers shouldn’t be checking personal social media accounts during work hours. But everyone gets breaks and lunch hours. The issue is that social media can be consuming and a few minutes can become an hour. So it goes back to the cardinal rule for virtual office users: discipline.