Internal Social Media Applications: Fostering Community Building in Remote Workspaces; An Overview of the Benefits of Internal Social Media Applications

Elgazar, Mohamed, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

This paper's research topic revolves around Internal Social Media Applications (ISMs) and their impact on the post-pandemic remote workspace. The problem that is addressed in this research paper is the lack of employee representation in the current literature about the benefits that ISMs bring to companies and employees. This is due to how most of the current literature on this topic takes the stance of saying that ISMs will always benefit companies without much regard for the employee experience of utilizing the different kinds of ISMs.

This issue is addressed by conducting interviews with current remote or hybrid-based employees who rely on ISMs, both internally developed ISMs and third-party ISMs, for work-based communication and community engagement. It's important to consider the employee perspective in these matters due to the problems that ISMs say they'll solve. ISMs offer companies a good opportunity to encourage their employees to stay connected in remote environments, however, neglecting to capture the human side of things causes the current literature to fall short of providing an inclusive image of the totality of the employee experience when utilizing these applications.

The STS framework that applies and helps analyze this issue is the one presented in Sarewitz and Nelson's 2008 paper, the Three Rules for Technological Fixes. It allows the centering and framing of the cause-effect relationship connecting the problem of employees being disconnected due to remote work to the solution of utilizing some sort of ISM application to help deal with that issue. The second rule is also easily applied due to how the measurable criterion for this issue is directly gathered from talking to employees about their experience with the technology and how it affects them in their work environments. The last rule relates the problem to a wider societal impact, and this is directly related to the loneliness caused by remote work and so introducing these ISMs in places of work that people belong in can help alleviate those issues.

The interviews that were conducted found that employees at companies working from remote environments had overall positive experiences utilizing ISMs of both kinds, thus agreeing with the current literature. Through the research and interviews conducted, a more definitive conclusion regarding the literature's stance on the topic was reached that reflected and weighed the employee experience more accurately than previously. By allowing this human side of the issue to be addressed, a clearer and more conclusive image is now painted for companies concerning the direction they wish to take with implementing their ISMs at their institutions.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Internal Social Media, Covid, Remote, Hybrid, Social Media, Application

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman
STS Advisor: Pedro Augusto Francisco

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