Social Media Use in Dubai Public Sector

Abstract

Social media is increasingly becoming popular as a means of communication, not only among the young population but also among the middle-aged and the aging population. Many companies are currently using social media platforms as means of advertising their products. However, the corporate society is yet to accept social media as a platform that can be used to pass official communications.

In Dubai, the government has strict policies regarding the use of social media among the public servants. This has made it difficult for public institutions to use social media as a means of passing internal communication. In this study, a review of literature indicates that in the near future, communication will be majorly based on the social media. It strongly suggests that both public and private institutions must embrace the use of social media and learn to deal with challenges associated with it.

Introduction

Background

Social media is increasingly becoming a powerful tool of communication in the modern society. According to Kalathil and Boas (2010), when Facebook was first introduced, many corporate entities dismissed it as a means of communication that was only fit for the adolescents and young adults who had idle time to spare sending messages all day long. However, the power of social media has increasingly become evident in the modern society as technology continues to advance.

Social media has become a platform where a person can communicate with friends very efficiently and with very minimal effort. Through social media, people can pass required information easily as long as they are using internet enabled gadgets. One can pass messages to a large number of people by just posting them on the wall. Facebook and Twitter have also become major platforms for sharing short texts to a given community. Through YouTube, people can share videos and audio materials to online community. Through Instagram, it is now possible to share pictures with an online community. As Kalathil and Boas (2010) put it, the social media can do more than what could be done in the traditional mass media.

According to FitzGerald and Dennis (2009), social media is yet to receive acceptance in official platforms such as passing messages to employees or making official commitment with clients or suppliers. This has more to do with the perception that was first created when it emerged. Given that most of these social media engines were developed by young college students with primary aim of making communication among campus students easy, the corporate society never considered them powerful enough to make significant impact in the corporate world.

As such, even advertising companies took time to realize that social media platforms was becoming more reliable in passing messages to the target audience than the traditional mass media. Most of the corporate entities are yet to allow the use of social media as a means of making official communications. It is still viewed as an unofficial way of sharing private life with friends.

In Dubai, there are strict government policies regarding the use of social media in public offices during official hours of work. The law restricts government officials from using social media during official hours of work (MacLean, 2004). It means that using the social media to make official communication in the public sector within the country is unthinkable because the social media platform in itself cannot be used even for private communication during official working hours. It is believed that people tend to waste a lot of time when they visit these sites, reducing their productivity and effectiveness when undertaking their official duties. In this paper, the researcher will investigate social media use and impacts for internal communication in Dubai public sector.

Problem statement

Social media is a force in the communication sector that has completely transformed the way people pass information, especially in unofficial settings. Long gone are the days when people had to write letters or telegrams in order to pass information from one person to another. With the invention of the social media platforms, communication is now something that can be made without any struggles. One only needs to go online, leave a message and it will reach the recipient in micro-seconds.

One will be assured that the message has reached the recipient, unlike in the past when it was not possible to know whether or not a telegram or a letter has reached the target audience. This efficiency in communication brought about by the social media can be very instrumental when it comes to internal communications within an organization. Many managers still rely on internal memos and letters to pass messages to their employees.

However, Howard and Hussain (2013) say that sometimes not all employees get to read these memos. Some notorious employees may even pluck off the notice, making it impossible for others to read it. However, when there is a clearly defined social media platform within the organization that the management can use to pass its messages, it can be efficient and very effective. Messages will be reaching the target audience within the shortest period possible. It is, therefore, of great concern that most of the public institutions within this country are yet to consider social media as a platform that they can use to reach out to their employees when making internal communication.

Research objective

According to Kalathil and Boas (2010), when conducting research, it is often important to come up with clear research objectives that will guide the process of collecting data and analyzing it. In this study, the researcher set the following objectives to guide in data collection and analysis.

  • To investigate the extent to which social media is used in public offices;
  • To determine the relevance of social media in passing internal communications within public institutions;
  • To determine the challenges associated with social media use in public institutions;
  • To come up with effective ways of solving problems related to social media use in public institutions.

In order to achieve the above research objectives, the researcher will need to collect both primary and secondary data, review them, and find answers to the set research questions.

Research questions and hypotheses

When conducting a research, it is possible to encounter a mass of information, most of which may not be specific to the area of study. Without a proper guide, it is possible to collect pieces of information which are not relevant to the area of research. It is, therefore, very important to come up with specific research questions that will define the data to be collected from the field. The following are the specific research questions that will be used in data collection.

  1. What is the extent of social media use in public institutions in Dubai?
  2. What is the relevance of social media in passing internal communications within public offices?
  3. What are the challenges associated with social media use in public institutions?
  4. What are the ways in which these challenges related to social media use in public institutions can be addressed.
  5. Can the use of social media by managers in the public sector influence the effectiveness of internal communications?

The researcher will work with the following primary hypotheses that will either be confirmed or rejected based on the analysis of both primary and secondary data.

  • H1o. Social media does not offer the best platform for internal communication within public institutions in Dubai.
  • H1a. Social media offers the best platform for internal communication within public institutions in Dubai.
  • H2o. The use of social media by managers to pass information to employees will not enhance effective and reliable communication within public institutions.
  • H2a. The use of social media by managers to pass information to employees will enhance effective and reliable communication within public institutions.

Literature Review

According to MacLean (2004), social media has increasingly become very popular in the modern society because of its efficiency, effectiveness, and reliability. The use of social media as a means of communication in the 21st century has attracted the attention of many scholars who have developed interest in understanding its relevance and position vis-à-vis the traditional communication platforms.

According to Laszlo (2008), over the past one decade, social media has completely edged out mass media and other traditional means of communication that were popularly in use before. The society, especially the youth, are demanding for platforms that can facilitate instant communication. Phone calls became an instrument that could do that, especially when cell phones were invented. However, the cost of voice data and some of its limitations such as the inability to share graphics or communicate with many people at the same time, made social media very popular (Mathos, Norman, & Kanter, 2012).

Facebook has over 1.3 billion active users spread across the world, from developed West to developing Africa. Twitter has over 800 million active users around the world and YouTube is accessed by close to one billion people all over the world (Howard & Hussain, 2013).

Other social media platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+ among others also have a huge following. At first, social media platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, were believed to be for the youth who had idle time to waste chatting and sharing audios, videos, and texts. However, that has changed a lot following the efficiency of these platforms in sharing information. Passing messages to the masses is no longer a preserve for the leading media stations.

People can now share with their friends events taking place around them in real time in these platforms (Hinchcliffe & Kim, 2012). In other words, social media has brought unique freedom to the modern society where people can share their mind and an issue affecting the society with ease than it has ever been in the past.

According to Howard and Hussain (2013), for a long time the business fraternity failed to give the right credit to the social media platform as a means of communication that can be useful in their operations. However, with time this changed as many firms realized that the youths no longer spend any meaningful time watching television. Their attention had shifted to social media platforms where they could share with their friends various issues about their life.

It became obvious that the only way of reaching out to the youth with meaningful advertisements is to use social media. Currently, almost all major corporations in Dubai and in the international community are actively using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and many other social media platforms to reach out to their customers. However, both private and public institutions are finding it difficult to use social media platform to pass important internal messages.

According to Hinchcliffe and Kim (2012), many private companies have strict policies that prohibit the use of social media among the employees during official working hours. These platforms are still considered very private means of communication among many organizations. However, Cook (2008) says that there are some private institutions that have realized that social media is a force that is here to stay, and the only way of dealing with it is to accept it as the new method of communication that is becoming increasingly popular.

Some private firms have developed Facebook pages where they pass all important and urgent messages to their employees and stakeholders instead of using posters or memos. As MacLean (2004) notes, sometimes it may be easy to ignore a memo even for several days, especially when one has spent several hours working and is tired. However, when the message is passed in the online platform, they can easily access it when relaxing at home or on the way home when trying to connect with friends.

Use of social media in public institutions

According to Cook (2008), public institutions have been slower in embracing social media as compared to private institutions. Private entities are keen on earning profits hence they are more dynamic when it comes to adapting to changes in the business environment. On the other hand, public entities are more focused on the service to the people and anything that is seen to challenge it is often not accepted.

As Cook (2008) says, most of the government employees, including some in the top management positions, have personal Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube accounts. However, when it comes to using these platforms when handling official duties, they find it difficult because of the perception that has been created about them. According to Kalathil and Boas (2010), one of the main issues that make it difficult to use social media in public entities for official purposes is the legal implication that is associated with the social media.

Accountability is one of the paramount principles that guide service in the public sector. Every single public employee must be accountable for every action he or she takes. When it comes to passing communications, the top executives must maintain accountability. They must ensure that the means they use to pass their messages is accountable and can be proven to be so even in a court of law. However, the legality of the use of social media is still in question even today.

It is possible for one to fail to go to his or her Facebook account for a very long time. If a message was sent through that platform, such a person cannot be held legally responsible for having not responded to it in time. It means that all the legal consequences arising from failure to act upon a given message will be borne by the sender. This is particularly the reason why most managers in public entities prefer using means of communication that enhance accountability. If they use a letter, which is increasingly becoming less popular in the modern society, they are assured that failure by the recipient to act upon the content of the message will be regarded as negligence.

In Dubai, Hinchcliffe and Kim (2012) say that the government has set strict laws and regulations that guide the use of social media. First, all government employees are prohibited from using their private social media accounts for official duties. It means that a manager cannot issue instructions or pass a given communiqué to the employees by using his Facebook account. Such communication will not be regarded official and can be ignored by the recipient.

The sender can also be held responsible for being unethical by using private means to pass official communication. The government of Dubai also restricts its employees from using the name of their employer when engaging in private activities. Finally, there is a law that restricts public employees from using social media during their official hours of work (Mathos, Norman & Kanter, 2012). These are some of the laws and regulations that have made it difficult for the employees of Dubai government to consider using social media as a means of passing information internally. There exist laws that prohibit such attempts.

According to a research by MacLean (2004), despite these strict laws concerning the use of social media platforms among the government employees, it is still a fact that most of these employees spend considerable amount of time on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube during their official working hours. The government has enacted the laws, but mechanisms of ensuring that the law is effectively implemented is still lacking.

The government is yet to come up with ways of monitoring the online activities of the employees, especially when they are using their private devices. Hinchcliffe and Kim (2012) say that teenagers and young adults cannot afford to take more than three hours without visiting their social media accounts. They have means and ways of doing so even when they are under tight surveillance.

Benefits of using social media in public institutions

It is important to appreciate that social media has a number of benefits when it is used in public institutions. As shown in the discussion above, it has already been proven that people are using the social media platforms even when they are on official duties. It is, therefore, not bad to include it as part of official communication among the employees. One of the main benefits of using social media platforms in public institutions, according to Prabhu (2004), is that it disseminates information almost instantly.

It means that if the management has an urgent issue that should be addressed by a group of employees, the information can easily be posted on the official Facebook wall of the organization and the employees will get to know what is going on within a very short time. If the message is specifically targeting a given employee, then it can be sent to the employee’s inbox where others will not have access to it.

Open door policy of addressing issues affecting public institutions and communing up with effective ways of solving them has been embraced by many government entities around the world (Laszlo, 2008). It creates a forum where a junior employee can engage a director and inform him or her about the issues that may be slowing down the progress, and how these issues can be addressed. Social media platform makes it possible for such discussions to take place.

According to Prabhu (2004), there are cases where incidences of corruption have been exposed because of the active use of social media. When one is not pleased by an event going on within the institution, such an individual can share the experience on Facebook, and the community will be able to discuss the issue. Those who had similar undesirable experiences can discuss them on such a platform and possible solutions can be suggested.

The management can also be given the opportunity to contribute to such debates and clarify issues that seem to be unclear. As MacLean (2004) notes, in such forums, the management is often offered the best opportunity to justify some of their decisions that other employees may consider unfair. For instance, cases of retrenchment often cause low morale among the employees who remain because they will be wondering when their jobs may come to an unexpected halt. However, the management can take to the social media, explain why it was necessary to lay off a section of the employees, and assure the remaining workforce that their job is secure and that they should focus on giving their best at whatever assignment they undertake.

According to Laszlo (2008), the use of social media within an organization helps in creating a closely knit community of employees who have a better understanding of the diversity that exists at workplace and knows how to take advantage of it. In most of the cases, employees do not get time to sit and share their experiences within the firm or about their past. However, social media platforms offer them this opportunity.

They can get to ask their colleagues what they find strange in their actions and through that they can have a better understanding of their peers. This creates an atmosphere where differences within the organization are appreciated instead of being used as a dividing factor. In such settings, teamwork will be ordinary and achieving common goals will be a lot easier than when the employees fail to appreciate the diversity that exists.

Challenges associated with the use of social media in public institutions

Social media is slowly becoming the biggest menace in most of the institutions, not only in the United Arab Emirates, but also in the entire world (Mathos, Norman & Kanter, 2012). Many institutions are struggling to find a proper way of limiting their employees’ access to the social media. According to MacLean (2004), the biggest problem with the social media is that it is addictive.

For instance, one is constantly imagining what other friends are positing on Facebook, making them unable to resist the urge to visit their Facebook accounts. Once there, they will get posts that will tempt them to respond. Their responses will illicit reactions from other users, and then the whole issue turns into a huge debate. In the process they may end up sporting a friend who is also online and they may start chatting.

If not interrupted, such a person may end up taking over an hour or two in their Facebook account doing things totally unrelated to their assignments. In the meantime, their work log will continue to pile and clients will continue to complain of not being given the services they deserve (Mansell & Raboy, 2011). YouTube is another very addictive social media platform. People share movies, recorded audios, and visuals that can be captivating.

When an employee is at work, it is easy for him or her to be tempted to go online and see some of the new YouTube posts. Once there, they can easily get carried away by a new movie or video recording that has been posted. If not careful, such a person can end up spending two hours watching the movie, forgetting that they ought to be undertaking their assignments at work.

According to FitzGerald and Dennis (2009), social media has challenges that make public institutions reluctant in using them. A good example is the increasingly common cases of hacking into websites and official social media accounts by cybercriminals and individuals who either want to create fear and panic or have ill intentions that they need to accomplish. Some government departments are so sensitive that any miscommunication can lead to serious harm to the public.

For instance, if someone hacks the Facebook account of the Department of Security and posts a message that a given terror group is planning to strike various points within the city of Dubai, then such distortion may cause serious public mayhem. People may get injured, properties destroyed, and businesses closed down for no good reason at all. Another sensitive ministry is that of health. If its official Facebook account is hacked and someone posts a message warning about an outbreak of a deadly disease such as Ebola, then the entire city will be panic stricken.

Everyone will avoid going to work for fear of contracting the disease (Howard & Hussain, 2013). Such situations can have serious impacts on the business community. The general public, having realized that they were fooled, may fail to take a serious warning in future thinking that it is just a ploy as the one experienced before.

According to Mansell and Raboy (2011), social media is also open to various other abuses that the government may not withstand. In Tunisia and Egypt where the Arab Spring started, the rebellion was started by an online community. The outcome was a changed regime and an unstable political environment that is unable to support business community. Rebellion against governments is something common even when those in power are legitimately holding their positions.

When the government relies heavily on the social media, it opens door for a few rebellious elements to take advantage of the social media platform to start spreading rumors that may end up causing political havoc. These are some of the reasons why the government of Dubai is still reluctant in embracing social media for either internal or external communications. It believes that there are yet to be developed mechanisms that can be used to address the problems identified above.

How to manage challenges associated with the use of social media institutions

Change is one of the forces that an entity cannot afford to ignore. According to Freitag and Stokes (2009), firms that ignored change suffered a great deal and some of them were even forced out of the market when it becomes apparent that what they ignored became the norm. A good example is Eastman Kodak that was the first to invent the digital films. The top management felt that it was not the right time to embrace change.

Before long, it was overtaken by small firms and it was almost forced out of the market (Howard & Hussain, 2013). That is a clear indication that change cannot be ignored. Both the public and private sector have to embrace change to ensure that they are successful in their operations. The use of social media is one such change, and time has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that it is the way of future communication. Sticking to traditional means of communication will only be costly and less efficient in running various activities within the public sector.

However, MacLean (2004) warns that before fully embracing the social media, it is important to find possible solutions to some of the issues raised in the section above. The use of social media by public entities should not be the reason why various departments should underperform. A review of the work of some of the scholars brings forth a number of suggestions on how these problems can be solved.

According to FitzGerald and Dennis (2009), one of the biggest problems in allowing the use of social media in public offices is the possible time wastage among the employees at a time they are expected to serve the public. This problem can be addressed in a number of ways. First, the management can introduce performance contract among its employees as a way of reviewing their work.

Under such systems, the management will enter into agreement with the employees and agree on amount and quality of work that every employee must deliver per a given period. In this self-regulatory policy, the employees will not be monitored by the top management in their respective workstations. However, their work output will be reviewed after the set period. They will be fully held accountable for the mistakes done within that period and underperformance that may be registered. MacKinnon (2012) says that this strategy takes the supervisory duties from the management and hands them over to the individual employees.

The employees will no longer try to play hide and seek games with the management because they will know that their actions are not being monitored, but their final output shall be reviewed. They will make personal commitments to ensure that they meet the set targets. This strategy is very appropriate for employees who are not directly engaged with handling clients. The workers at the back offices often have the capacity to spend more time doing personal issues in the online platform. Under this policy, the management will be assured that whatever these employees engages in during their official hours of work, they have to complete a given amount of work and in the desired quality.

For employees working in front desks where they have to interact with the public when they are undertaking their duties, another policy different from performance contract may be necessary. According to Kalathil and Boas (2010), it can be annoying for someone to be ignored by a public official simply because such an official has already met the set target of work for that particular day. As such, these employees may need to be monitored in real time using modern technologies such as CCTV cameras.

Laszlo (2008) says that these employees should know that their actions are being monitored and that if they ignore their work, then they shall be fully held accountable. This approach may be harsh, but it is one of the best ways through which the government can protect its image. It will put a lot of pressure on the employees and it will make it almost impossible to visit their social media accounts when they are in their workstation.

According to Prabhu (2004), it is very easy to stop employees from accessing social media when they are at work. Instead of the government putting a ban on the use of social media, it should introduce policies that will regulate how its employees use these platforms. For instance, there should be a policy that when getting to the workstation, one is not allowed to have mobile phones, especially the Smartphone that can be used to access the internet.

Once in the workstation, the employees will have computers from which they can access the social media, especially Facebook, to get regular updates from the government. Software can be installed in these computers to help determine the exact activities that every employee engages in while at work. This way, the management will be assured that the workforce is engaged in meaningful work.

According to Siapera and Veglis (2012), it is possible to solve the problem of social media addiction among the employees by creating a unique work culture. The practices that employees engage in while at work are largely influenced by organizational culture that has been embraced. When the culture tolerates laziness and irresponsibility, then it is more likely that the employees will tend to take most of their time on social media other than attending to their official duties. If the culture promotes a sense of responsibility, commitment, and self-motivation, then the employees will feel that they have to avoid using the social media irresponsibly (Mathos, Norman & Kanter, 2012).

As such, the government may need to inculcate positive work culture that will drive the employees towards doing what is right at all times and in the manner that is expected of them. To address the problem of hacking, the government should have a backup system that can be used when the normal system is corrupted. It should be quick to notice and react to cases of intrusion from individuals who are planning malicious attacks. It should also use advanced protection systems that can ensure that the system is not breached by cybercriminals.

The future of social media use in public institutions

According to Hinchcliffe and Kim (2012), all indications point to the fact that social media as a platform of communication is increasingly becoming important and cannot be ignored either by private or public entities. It is easy and very convenient to use this platform to pass communication to the targeted audience whether individually or as a group. Facebook is now very popular both among the young and the elderly.

Twitter is becoming very popular in the corporate society and so is LinkedIn. Ignoring these social media platforms is not advisable and the Government of Dubai needs to appreciate this fact. It is true that there is a good reason for the government to feel a little nervous in embracing this new mode of communication.

However, there are a number of ways through which these concerns can be addressed. As Cook (2008) says, public and private entities should now focus on how to address these concerns instead of focusing on how to prohibit the employees from using it. Governmental department can hire some experts to ensure that systems and structures are streamlined to make it possible to use social media in internal communication. These experts can help in addressing the concerns of the government and in empowering the management when it comes to the use of social media among the employees.

Theoretical framework

It is important to look at some of the theoretical concepts that may help in understanding the concept of social media communication and its relevance in public institutions. The Social Network Theory is very relevant in explaining the concept of social media communication and its increasing relevance in the modern society. According to MacLean (2004), Social Network Theory focuses on “the study of how people, organizations or groups interact with others inside their network.” It emphasized on the need to understand that the network is kept intact by constant interaction of the actors amongst themselves and with entities.

It is not possible to stop the communication within the network, but it is possible to regulate it. In this context of this study, the policy makers within the government of Dubai must realize that it is not possible to dictate the way people interact within this framework. However, it is possible to regulate this interaction to suite a given context and a given environment. It means that the government can manipulate the system to be part of the network and ensure that it uses it to its advantage. Instead of fighting the use of social media, government can modify the way it is used in order to make it a useful tool of internal communication.

Methodology

When conducting a research, it is important to clearly define the method that will be used in the study. Conducting a research is a very complex process that needs time, resources, and a deep understanding of what should be done. Understanding the questions that must be answered from the data collected is not enough. A researcher must be aware of the exact sources of information to be collected, how to collect the information, challenges expected and how to overcome them, ethical concerns that must be maintained among a host of other issues that must be respected when conducting a study. In this section, the researcher will explain the methodology that was used to arrive at the conclusion and recommendations made in this study.

Data collection

According to Anthopoulos and Reddick (2015), after coming up with a series of research questions based on the research objectives, the next important thing is to identify how the data will be collected. In this study, data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. The section below critically discusses how both primary and secondary data were obtained to inform the conclusions and recommendations in the study.

Questionnaire design

In this research project, there were two key methods used to collect information. The first approach was through the use of questionnaires, which were electronically delivered to the sampled participants. The questionnaire captured various attitudes of the respondents in regard to the use of social media in internal official communications. The second source of information used for the study was literature on various aspects of social media, and the use of social media in public institutions in specific.

The focus of the literature review was to collect information on the use of social media within the workplace and also to determine the current state of research in relation to the issue under investigation. The questionnaire was divided into various parts.

The first section sought to capture background information of the respondents. The second part focused on the demography and gender of the research participants. This was considered necessary to ascertain the prevalence of the views in various categories to ensure that if significant differences came out, then they could be captured in these demographic spaces. The third part focused on the academic credentials and the work experience of respondents in the study.

The motivation for the section came from understanding that people often respond differently to issues, based on their age and academic qualifications. The fourth focused on specific issues which are related to the use of social media as a platform for internal communication within public institution in Dubai.

The questionnaire employed a mix of both open and closed-ended questions in order to capture different aspects of the issues studied. Open-ended questions were used as they gave respondents time to figure out the opinions. It was expected that it would make them volunteer information related to their feelings, outlooks, and comprehension of the subject. It would allow the researcher to comprehend the position of respondents in regard to feelings and opinions about the use of social media in the workplace.

Open-ended question minimizes errors that may have been created in the course of the study. Respondents do not easily forget answers if they are given an opportunity to respond freely. Moreover, respondents do not easily ignore some questions because they often have to go through all of them. Open-ended questions generate data that may be used by other researchers. It means that they allow for secondary data analysis. Closed-ended questions on the other hand, are analyzed easily.

When closed-ended questions are used, each response can be easily coded for the purpose of statistical interpretation. Moreover, closed-ended questions are often compatible with various computer analysis packages making the calculations easy. This technique is specific, meaning that the answers are often consistent in all conditions. The unique aspect is often impossible when using open-ended questions because every respondent must be allowed to use own words. Closed-ended question takes less time to administer, unlike open-ended questions that are time consuming. The questionnaire was delivered to the respondents via their e-mails. The researcher made this decision after serious consideration of time and resources available. This method is less time consuming.

The literatures collected provided knowledge regarding various theories that are related to social media. The literatures identified a number of theories focused on the relevance of internal communication in an organizational setting. Finally, the literatures also provided information on the state of research in the field. It was noted that various scholars have conducted research on various elements of internal communication within an organization and the impact that emerging trends have on it. The sources gave this study a sound academic backing and a basis from which comparisons and conclusions were made.

Scope of data collection

A piece of research is often meant to address the existing gaps in the bodies of knowledge or to help reconcile conflicts in the existing bodies of knowledge. It means that a research can only be meaningful if it comes up with something new other than repeating what is already written about by other scholars. Wright (2009) says that scholars must realize that their work may be used by other scholars or policy makers to help them in making decisions.

As such, it is critical to explain the scope of a given study so that consumers of such reports may know the extent to which they can apply the information contained therein in the document. As stated above, the researcher used both primary and secondary data sources. Secondary data sources were obtained from books, journal articles, and other reliable online sources. These literatures focused generally on the use of social media in public sector in various countries, especially in the West. It means that information provided in the literature review can be generalized into a broader context. However, primary data collection was limited to Dubai.

The respondents were either government employees within Dubai or experts who were working within Dubai at the time this study was conducted. It means that the data obtained from the primary sources cannot be generalized outside this context. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations made in this study were based on the primary data and backed by the secondary data. It means that the conclusion and recommendations are more relevant to the context of Dubai public institutions. Inasmuch as they can also be used in other similar contexts, it is important for the users of this document to understand that there are some external environmental forces which are unique to this emirate.

Sampling methods

The government of Dubai is one of the leading employers in this emirate and indeed in the entire country. It employs hundreds of thousands of people in the health, security, public works, legal systems, and in many other government departments. Getting these employees was relatively easy. As such, it was necessary to come up with effective ways of sampling just a section of the workforce that would act as a representative of the rest of the population.

The researcher used stratified sampling to select the participants. Stratified sampling was selected because of the need to have participants coming from various groups identified by the researcher. The strata included top managers, mid-managers, non-management employees, and experts. In order to have a representation from the four groups, stratified sampling was considered necessary.

Data analysis

When analyzing data, a researcher may use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed research methods based on the nature of the study. In this research, the aim was to conduct an analysis of social media use and impact on internal communication in Dubai public sector. To do this, the researcher needed descriptive analysis. The data had to give a detailed description of the past communication means, the current trends, and the impact it has on the public sector.

Descriptive data made it possible to explain why social media is becoming increasingly popular, its relevance in the public sector, reasons why the government is reluctant in embracing it, challenges associated with it, and what can be done to ensure that it can be used without causing concern to the government and public who often seek various services in these offices. The use of phenomenology will be specifically important during the analysis of the data. Describing a given event, how it happened, how it affected people involved, and such other details may be necessary in enhancing an understanding of this topic.

Ethical concerns

The researcher was conscious of the ethical issues that are related to conducting a successful research project. First, the researcher steered off from any form of biasness when selecting the literatures to be used in the study and when identifying the participants to be engaged in the research. Biased selection of primary and secondary sources of data affects the outcome of the study. Such a research project cannot be objective. It is also an ethical requirement to ensure that the identity of the respondents is kept private. The researcher did this by assigning these respondents codes instead of using their real names.

Schedule

To conduct a successful research, it is often important to come up with a proper schedule of identifying activities that will be done and the period within which they shall be completed. Below Gantt chart shows the scheduled activities and the time within which they shall be completed. The project is expected to take a total of 12 weeks.

Timeline of the project

Timeline of the project

Validity and reliability

Validity and reliability are very important for this study. In this study, internal validity will be ensured through checking the representativeness of the sample. Reliability will be achieved through increasing verifiability of the perspective and using statistical tools.

Data Collection and Presentation

Commencement of data collection

The study on the aspect of social media use and its impact in internal communications within the public sector of Dubai focused on the use of reliable and valid data from various sources. Based on the need for a comprehensive study, two key methods were used to collect the required data. This section provides and overview of the research methodology adopted to collect the required data. Both qualitative and quantitative research approaches were employed in this study due to the scope of the research. As such, questionnaires were used to collect data from the sampled study participants. To avoid logistics challenges, the questionnaire was delivered to the study participants electronically.

The design of the questionnaire focused on crucial attributes of the study participants in relation to the use of social media in internal official communications. The questionnaire had several sections with the first section seeking to collect information on personal characteristics of the respondents such as their age and marital status. Secondly, the questionnaire focused on collecting the demography and gender of the research participants.

This was considered necessary to ascertain the prevalence of the views in various categories to ensure that if significant differences came out, then they could be captured in these demographic spaces. In addition, the design of the questionnaire included a section that focused on the collection of data on the level of education of the participants of the study, as well as the level of experience in their work. The choice to include the ages of the study participants and their work experience was informed by the fact that individuals respond differently to issues, based on their age and academic qualifications. Lastly, the design considered specific aspects of social media and its use as a platform for internal communication within public institution in Dubai.

Data collection using the questionnaire method focused on capturing different aspects of social media and hence, the study adopted both open and closed-ended questions. These type of questions ensured that the study comprehensively collected all the necessary information with regard to respondents’ opinions on social media use for internal official communication.

The open-ended questions gave respondents the time to figure out the opinions, as well as triggered them to voluntarily provide information related to their feelings, outlooks, and comprehension of the subject. Such an approach also allowed the researcher to comprehend the position of respondents in regard to their feelings and opinions about the use of social media in the workplace. Open-ended question minimized errors that could have been created in the course of the study.

On the other hand, the use of closed-ended questions was followed by coding of each response for the purpose of statistical interpretation. In addition, closed-ended questions were used for their compatibility with various computer analysis packages making the calculations easy. This technique is specific, meaning that the answers are often consistent in all conditions. The unique aspect is often impossible when using open-ended questions because every respondent must be allowed to use own words.

Closed-ended question took less time to administer, unlike open-ended questions that were time consuming. The questionnaire was delivered to the respondents via their e-mail in order to cut costs.

Secondly, the study obtained a verity of information from past studies that covered various aspects of social media, and the use of social media in public institutions in specific. Most importantly, the review of literature in this case, focused on the collection of data that related with the use of social media within the workplace and also to determine the current state of research in relation to the issue under investigation. The literatures collected provided knowledge regarding various theories that are related to social media. The literatures identified a number of theories focused on the relevance of internal communication in an organizational setting (Armenaki, Armenakis, & Kaldis, 2014).

Finally, the literatures also provided information on the state of research in the field. The review of literature indicated that several studies have been carried out on various elements of internal communication within an organization and the impact that emerging trends have on it (Baran, 2009; Chang, 2015). The sources gave this study a sound academic backing and a basis from which comparisons and conclusions were made.

The focus of the literature review was on the use of social media in public sector in various countries, especially in the West. The implication is that the information provided in the literature review can be generalized into a broader context. Nonetheless, the primary data collection was limited to Dubai. The respondents were either government employees within Dubai or experts who were working within Dubai at the time this study was conducted. The following sections provide information on the actual study such as demographic information of the respondents and their responses to a number of social media aspects.

Demographic data of the respondents

First, the study sought to establish the ages of all the study participants. The research used 53 respondents. Out of these, 10 were aged between 18 and 24 years, and accounted for 18.87% of the total study participants. Those aged between 25 and 34 years were 40, while those aged between 45 and 59 years were 3, and accounted for 75.47% and 5.66% respectively. No single respondent was aged over 60 years. The table below summarizes the responses on study participants’ ages.

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
18 – 24 years old 18.9% 10
25 – 34 years old 75.5% 40
45 – 59 years old 5.7% 3
over 60 years old 0.0% 0

Table 1: Respondents’ data on their ages.

From the data above, it is evident that most of the respondents were aged between 25 and 34 years, while only a small number were aged between 45 and 59 years. This shows that most of the study participants were the youth. Such target groups was suitable for this study, given that the youth form a large percentage of the users of social media platform and hence, were suitable for the study on the use of social media platform for internal official communication.

Respondents' data on their ages.
Figure 1: Respondents’ data on their ages.

Gender of the study participants

The study also examined the gender of the respondents in an attempt to establish whether or not the difference in gender identity had any effect as far as the subject under study was concerned. The table below shows the study participants’’ gender.

Choice Responses Count
Male 32.69% 17
Female 67.31% 35
Total 100% 52

Table 2: Gender of the study participants.

The study had 53 participants. However, one of the respondents did not answer the question on the gender identity. Out of the 52 participants who offered their response regarding their gender identity, majority of them (35) were females, while the male participants were only 17, accounting for 32.69% of the total study participants. The graph below shows the respondents’ data on their gender.

Graph showing respondents' gender.
Figure 2: Graph showing respondents’ gender.

Industry of work

The study examined the industry in which the study participants worked. The table below summarizes the study participants’ data on their industry of work.

Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Healthcare 11.3% 6
Non-profit 11.3% 6
Technology 1.9% 1
Energy & Utilities 11.3% 6
Transportation 9.4% 5
Materials 0.0% 0
Consumer 5.7% 3
Finance 11.3% 6
Education 1.9% 1
Professional Services 3.8% 2
Manufacturing 0.0% 0
Other 32.1% 17
answered question 53
skipped question 0

Table 3: Industry of work.

The results showed that the study participants were in different industries such as healthcare, non-profit, technology, energy and utilities, transportation, materials, consumer, finance, education, personal services, manufacturing among others. The others category registered the highest number of study participants (17), followed by the healthcare, non-profit, energy and utilities, and finance industries.

The lowest number of respondents (1) was recorded in the technology and education industries. In spite of this, other industries such as materials and the manufacturing industry had zero representatives. As such, the highest number of responses (17) accounted for 32.08% of the total responses. The figure below shows a graph of study participants’ responses on the industry of work.

Respondents' industry.
Figure 3: Respondents’ industry.

Respondents’ position in the organization

The respondents were questioned about their position in the organization in which they worked. Out of 53 study participants, 39 answered this question while the rest (14) skipped the question, as shown in the table below.

Please, indicate position you occupy in the Semi/public sector organization:
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Assistant 17.9% 7
Secretary 2.6% 1
Executive officer 43.6% 17
Committee officer 7.7% 3
Head of policy 0.0% 0
Manager 28.2% 11
Answered question 39
Skipped question 14

Table 4: Respondents’ position in the organization.

The study participants’ responses on their position comprised of various positions such as assistant, secretary, executive officer, committee officer, head of policy, and manager. The results based on the 39 responses showed that the study participants included 7 assistants, 1 secretary, 17 executive officers, 3 committee officers, and 0 head of policy, and 11 managers. The above data can be presented in the form of a pie chart as shown below.

Respondents' position in the organization.
Figure 4: Respondents’ position in the organization.

Number of social media applications used in respondents’ workplace for internal communications

The study examined the number of social media applications used in respondents’ workplace for internal communications. The study participants’ responses showed that 12 participants indicated that they do not use in social media applications in their workplace for internal communication. However, 16, 17 and 8 participants reported that they use one, two or three, and more than three applications for internal communication respectively. The table below provides a summary of respondent’s responses on the use of various social media applications in the office for internal communications.

How many social media applications are used in your workplace for the purposes of internal communication, if any?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
None (skip to question 13) 22.6% 12
One 30.2% 16
Two or three 32.1% 17
More than three 15.1% 8
answered question 53
skipped question 0

Table 5: Number of social media applications used in respondents’ workplace for internal communications.

From the above table, it is evident that all the study participants (53) answered the question on the social media applications used in respondents’ workplace for internal communications. At least, 41 respondents indicated that a significant number of social media applications were in use in their workplace for purposes of internal communication. The pie chart below is a graphical representation of the above data.

Number of social media applications used in respondents’ workplace for internal communications.
Figure 5: Number of social media applications used in respondents’ workplace for internal communications.

The above data shows that the use of social media in the workplace for internal communications is already ongoing. As evident from the results above, 77.4% of the study participants pointed out that various numbers of social media are being used in the workplace for official communications. The implication is that with time, various social media applications are likely to be used extensively for internal communications in the workplace.

Specific social media applications used in the workplace

The study narrowed down to the specific social media applications used in the workplace. As such, the emphasis was on the 41 respondents who had pointed out that various social media applications were used in their workplace. For this reason, 12 study participants skipped this question as evident in the table below.

Which particular social media applications are used in your workplace?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yammer 7.3% 3
Skype 22.0% 9
WhatsApp 75.6% 31
Instagram 39.0% 16
Other (please specify) 24.4% 10
answered question 41
skipped question 12

Table 6: Particular social media applications used in respondents’ workplace.

The table above shows that various social media applications are used in the workplace for official communications, ranging from Yammer, Skype, WhatsApp, Instagram, among others. As shown from the above table, majority of the study participants (31) used WhatsApp in their workplace, which accounted for 75.6% of the total percentage responses. On the other hand, 16, 9, and 3 study participants pointed out that they use Instagram, Skype, and Yammer respectively while 10 other respondents did not disclose the specific social media applications used in their workplace. The above data was plotted in a graph as shown below.

Particular social media applications used in respondents' workplace.
Figure 6: Particular social media applications used in respondents’ workplace.

Respondents’ use of social media

The study sought to establish whether or not the respondents used social media in their spare time and whether or not such use had any significant impact in their overall use for official matters. Out of the 41 study participants who reported to use social media in their workplace, majority of them agreed that they extensively use social media in their spare time making it easier for them to adopt various applications for official matters.

This accounted for 60.98% of the total responses while only 4.88% strongly disagreed to the assertion that they use social media in their spare time, which positively contributes to their use of them for official communication. Two other respondents were undecided, while 10 others strongly agreed as shown in the table below.

I actively use social media in my spare time, which is why I find it easier to use them for office communication.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 4.9% 2
Disagree 4.9% 2
Undecided 4.9% 2
Agree 61.0% 25
Strongly agree 24.4% 10
answered question 41
skipped question 12

Table 7: Respondents’ use of social media.

From the above responses, it can be seen that the use of social media during the respondents’ spare time has a significant effect in their adoption of such platforms for official use. This can be inferred from the large percentage of respondents who agreed (61.0%) and others who strongly agreed (24.4%). The above data was plotted graphically as shown in the figure below.

Respondents’ use of social media.
Figure 7: Respondents’ use of social media.

Frequency of respondents’ use of social media

The frequency of respondents’ use of social media in a day was paramount for the study’s conclusions. As such, the study examined how regular the respondents checked the working process updates on social media and recorded the results shown in the table below.

I regularly (more than three times a day) check the working process updates on social media because it allows me to receive information quicker.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 2.4% 1
Disagree 7.3% 3
Undecided 7.3% 3
Agree 53.7% 22
Strongly agree 29.3% 12
answered question 41
skipped question 12

Table 8: Frequency of respondents’ use of social media.

Majority of the respondents (53.7%) agreed that they check the working process updates on social media more than three times a day since it furnishes them with quick information. On the other hand, 29.3% of the respondents agreed while 7.3%, 7.3%, and 2.4% were undecided, disagreed and strongly disagreed respectively. Based on the above responses, it can be seen that most of the respondents (83%) relied on social media for quick information regarding any updates on the working process in their workplace. The above data was presented in a pie chart as shown below.

Frequency of respondents’ use of social media.
Figure 8: Frequency of respondents’ use of social media.

Formality of social media communication

The study examined the extent of social media use in terms of its formality. As such, the respondents were asked to comment on whether or not the manner of communication on social media used in their workplace was very formal. The table below summarizes the study participants’ responses.

The manner of communication on social media used in my workplace is very formal.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 0.0% 0
Disagree 24.4% 10
Undecided 9.8% 4
Agree 53.7% 22
Strongly agree 12.2% 5
answered question 41
skipped question 12

Table 9: Formality of social media communication.

The responses above show that most of the social media communication used in the workplace was done in a formal manner. This can be inferred from the fact that 53.7% respondents agreed, and 12.2% strongly agreed that the manner of social media communication in their workplace was formal. Only, an insignificant number of the respondents (24.4%) disagreed, while 9.8% were undecided as far as the formality of the social media use in their workplace was concerned. The figure below shows a pie chart presenting participants’ response on the formality of the manner of communication on social media used in their workplace.

Formality of social media communication.
Figure 9: Formality of social media communication.

Impact of social media on the efficiency of office communication

It was necessary to ascertain whether or not the introduction of social media in the working environment had positively impacted the efficiency of office communication. As such, the opinions of the respondents on this aspect were sought and responses recorded as shown in the table below.

I believe that the introduction of social media to the working environment has a significantly positive impact on the efficiency of office communication.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 2.4% 1
Disagree 2.4% 1
Undecided 7.1% 3
Agree 57.1% 24
Strongly agree 31.0% 13
answered question 42
skipped question 11

Table 10: Impact of social media on the efficiency of office communication.

The study participants’ responses show that majority of them believe that the introduction of social media in the working environment has had a significant positive impact as far as office communication is concerned. This assertion is based on the fact that 31.0% strongly agreed, and 57.1% agreed, with only 2.4% of the total respondents disagreeing. In addition, another 2.4% of the study participants strongly disagreed while 7.1% were undecided. The figure below shows a pie chart showing study participants’ response on the impact of social media on the efficiency of office communication.

Impact of social media on the efficiency of office communication.
Figure 10: Impact of social media on the efficiency of office communication.

Benefits of the use of social media for internal communication

The study examined the benefits of using social media in the workplace for internal communication. As such, the study sought the opinions of the respondents on whether or not the use of social media for internal communication was beneficial in any way especially in the creation of the atmosphere of trust and openness in the team. The table below summarizes the responses from the study participants.

In my opinion, using social media for internal communication is beneficial because it helps create the atmosphere of trust and openness in the team.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 0.0% 0
Disagree 2.4% 1
Undecided 7.3% 3
Agree 51.2% 21
Strongly agree 39.0% 16
answered question 41
skipped question 12

Table 11: Benefits of the use of social media for internal communication.

As evident from the above table, majority of the respondents (51.2%) agreed to the assertion that using social media for internal communication is beneficial because it helps create the atmosphere of trust and openness in the team, while 39.0% strongly agreed, 7.3% were undecided, 2.4% disagreed and none strongly disagreed. The figure below shows a pie chart summarizing the study participants’ response on whether or not the use of social media for internal communication is beneficial.

Benefits of the use of social media for internal communication.
Figure 11: Benefits of the use of social media for internal communication.

The impact of the social media popularity in the workplace

The study sought to establish whether or not the increasing popularity of social media in the workplace has any significant impact on the efficiency of the working environment. The participants of the study had varying opinions as shown in the table below.

I think that the increasing popularity of social media in the working place leave more time for work because the latest and the most important news are within arm’s reach.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 0.0% 0
Disagree 2.5% 1
Undecided 22.5% 9
Agree 40.0% 16
Strongly agree 35.0% 14
answered question 40
skipped question 13

Table 12: The impact of the social media popularity in the workplace.

The above table shows responses from 40 study participants since 13 did not respond to this question. Out of the 40 participants who responded 40% agreed that the social media popularity has a lot of impact in the workplace as it leaves more time for work because the latest and the most important news are within arm’s reach. On the other hand, 35% strongly agreed, while 22.5% were undecided and 2% disagreed. Overly, majority of the study participants (75%) believed that the increase in the popularity of social media in the workplace is very significant as it leaves a considerable amount of time for work. This can be attributed to the fact that social media offers a platform in which people can easily find the latest and the most important information.

The figure below shows a pie chart summarizing respondents’ opinions on the role of increased social media popularity.

The impact of the social media popularity in the workplace.
Figure 12: The impact of the social media popularity in the workplace.

Role of senior management in enhancing the efficiency of social media use for official communication

The study examined the efficiency of social media use for official communication with the focus on whether or no such efficiency depended on strict control by the senior management. As such, the following table shows the responses of the study participants.

I believe that introducing social media as a means of office communications can only be efficient once its use is strictly controlled by senior management.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 1.9% 1
Disagree 24.5% 13
Undecided 9.4% 5
Agree 47.2% 25
Strongly agree 17.0% 9
answered question 53
skipped question 0

Table 13: Role of senior management in enhancing the efficiency of social media use for official communication.

From the table above, it can be seen that majority of the respondents (47.2%) agreed that there is a need for senior management’s strict control of the social media as a means of office communication in order to enhance efficiency of the communication. In addition, 17% of the study participants strongly agreed, while 9.4% were undecided, 24.5% disagreed and 1.9% strongly disagreed.

Overly, 64.2% respondents felt that the efficiency of the social media as a means of communication can only be achieved if there is strict control by the senior management. The figure below shows a pie chart presenting data on the study participants’ response on whether or not senior management’s strict control is needed to enhance the efficiency of social media use for official communication.

Role of senior management in enhancing the efficiency of social media use for official communication.
Figure 13: Role of senior management in enhancing the efficiency of social media use for official communication.

Does formality of internal communication helps employees in remaining focused on tasks?

The study engaged the respondents to examine whether or not formality in internal communication helps employees to remain focused on various tasks within the workplace. The table below summarizes the opinions of the study participants regarding the aspect of whether or not formality in internal communications helps employees to remain focused on tasks.

In my opinion, formality in internal communication helps to remain focused on tasks.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 5.8% 3
Disagree 9.6% 5
Undecided 25.0% 13
Agree 38.5% 20
Strongly agree 21.2% 11
answered question 52
skipped question 1

Table 14: Formality in internal communication helps employees in remaining focused on tasks.

As evident from the table above, most of the study participants (38.5%) agreed that formal internal communications is very important for the purpose of ensuring that employees remain focused on their tasks. Similarly, 21.2% strongly agreed to this assertion, while 25.0% were undecided and hence provided no opinion. On the other hand, 9.6% and 5.8% disagreed and strongly disagreed respectively as far as the role of formality of internal communication in the workplace is concerned. The above data is shown in form of a pie chart below.

Formality of internal communication helps employees in remaining focused on tasks.
Figure 14: Formality of internal communication helps employees in remaining focused on tasks.

Does the popularity of social media in the working place restrain the employees’ personal space?

There was a need to investigate the impact of increasing use of social media in the workplace as far as employees’ personal space is concerned. As such, the participants of the study were questioned on their opinions regarding the extent of restraint on personal space caused by social media use in the workplace. The table below presents the responses of the study participants on this issue.

In my opinion, the increasing popularity of social media in the working place restrains the employees’ personal space because these applications are just another tool for monitoring their activities.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 3.8% 2
Disagree 9.6% 5
Undecided 19.2% 10
Agree 44.2% 23
Strongly agree 23.1% 12
answered question 52
skipped question 1

Table 15: Social media in the working place restrains the employees’ personal space.

From the table above, the use of social media platforms in the office adversely affects the personal space of employees. This can be inferred from the high number of respondents who agreed (44.2%) and those who strongly agreed (23.1%) that the increasing popularity of social media in the working place restrains the employees’ personal space because these applications are just another tool for monitoring their activities. In spite of this, 19.2% of the participants were undecided, while 9.6% and 3.8% disagreed and strongly disagreed respectively. The above data was plotted in a pie chart as shown below.

Social media in the working place restrain the employees’ personal space.
Figure 15: Social media in the working place restrain the employees’ personal space.

The impact of social media on organizational hierarchy

The study engaged the participants of the research in an attempt to find out whether or not the introduction of social media to the working environment has any significant effect on the hierarchy within the organization. All the respondents but one responded to this question as shown in the table below.

I believe that the introduction of social media to the working environment destroys the hierarchy within the organization.
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Strongly disagree 7.7% 4
Disagree 19.2% 10
Undecided 7.7% 4
Agree 44.2% 23
Strongly agree 21.2% 11
answered question 52
skipped question 1

Table 16: The impact of social media on organizational hierarchy.

According to the responses above, most of the study participants felt that the introduction of social media in the organization affects the existing hierarchy. This inference is based on the fact that 44.2% of the study participants agreed that introducing social media in the workplace destroys the organizational hierarchy, while 21.2% strongly agreed. In addition, only an insignificant number of the total respondents had divergent opinions; 19.2% disagreed, 7.7% strongly disagreed. The above data was plotted in a pie chart as shown below.

The impact of social media on organizational hierarchy.
Figure 16: The impact of social media on organizational hierarchy.

Production of an Ethical Discussion

The objectives of this study included investigating the extent to which social media is used in public offices, determining the relevance of social media in passing internal communications within public institutions, determining the challenges associated with social media use in public institutions, as well as coming up with effective ways of solving problems related to social media use in public institutions.

To achieve the objectives of the study, a lot of consideration was given the use of social media in the workplace. According to the analysis, various social media platforms were in use for internal communications in the workplace. For example, 77.4% of the study participants pointed out that various numbers of social media are being used in the workplace for official communications.

Such results and findings aligned to the findings from the review of literature that showed that the growing popularity of social media has contributed to the increased demand for the use of social media in the office for internal communications (Hazlett, 2010). As such, it is expected that with time, various social media applications are likely to be used extensively for internal communications in the workplace (Huang, Baptista, & Galliers, 2013).

Nowadays, many social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook are constantly used both for personal and official matters (He & Xu, 2016). As evident from the study, majority of the study participants (31) used WhatsApp in their workplace, which accounted for 75.6% of the total percentage responses. On the other hand, 16, 9, and 3 study participants pointed out that they use Instagram, Skype, and Yammer respectively.

Such a high number of social media use in the office offers enough evidence that there is a growing demand for social media use for official communications. This can be attributed to the fact that there are so many people nowadays who have access to the internet via smartphones, laptops and personal computers (Young & Hinesly, 2014). For this reason, the use of social media platforms for official communications seems to be appropriate given that many people can be reached easily over a short period.

The study examined the use of social media among the participants of the study and discovered that majority of them extensively use social media in their spare time making it easier for them to adopt various applications for official matters. As noted earlier, social media use has become common nowadays for both official and personal use. The continuous use of the social media has played a significant role in enhancing communication between individuals on personal level.

Social media trends show that many people are finding the use of social media in the office for internal communication comfortable since they are used to social media use for personal communications. This was evident in the study’s results that showed a high number of respondents, (84.4%) agreeing to the assertion that they use social media in their spare time, which positively contributes to their use of them for official communication.

On the other hand, the study examined the frequency of respondents’ use of social media and noted that majority of the respondents (83%) check the working process updates on social media more than three times a day. Such a high response rate can be attributed to the fact that social media has become popular due to its capacity to provide reliable information within a short time (Torres van Grinsven & Snijkers, 2015). With respect to the social media use in the office, many people are likely to prefer its use to traditional communication since social media has the ability to provided individuals with quick information.

The formality of social media communication is an element that has raised a lot of concerns as far as the use of social media for official communication is concerned (Young & Hinesly, 2014). Such concerns are based on the fact that social media platforms were initially meant for personal use. Nevertheless, with the onset of globalization social media platforms are now being used formally for official communications (Young & Hinesly, 2014).

As evident for the results of this study, most of the respondents attested that social media communication used in their workplace was done in a formal manner. This can be inferred from the fact that 53.7% respondents agreed, and 12.2% strongly agreed that the manner of social media communication in their workplace was formal.

The growing popularity of social media both or official and personal use has had a significant impact in the mode of communication used by many people nowadays (Westerik, Renckstorf, Lammers, & Wester, 2006).

According to the study participants’ responses, majority of respondents believe that the introduction of social media in the working environment has had a significant positive impact as far as office communication is concerned. Empirical literature review has showed that there is a growing concern over the use of social media in the workplace (Sharma & Kamalanabhan, 2012). This can be attributed to its efficiency as a means of communication that facilitates faster response and quick access to information whenever needed (Thaker, Nowacki, Mehta, & Edwards, 2011). To large extent, it can be considered that the introduction of social media in the work environment has positively transformed the mode of communication in offices nowadays (Stevens, 2014). In addition, the adoption of the use of social media for internal communication has several benefits.

As evident from the study, majority of the respondents (51.2%) agreed to the assertion that using social media for internal communication is beneficial. The review of literature indicated that social media use in the office for internal communication is beneficial because it helps create the atmosphere of trust and openness in the team (Robinson, Barth, & Kohut, 2007). The availability of various platforms through which team members can effectively communicate with one another makes execution of tasks quite simple and effective (Ríos & Gaines, 2007). Humphreys (2013) noted that such a strategy develops trust and high level of honest among team members, which is very important in the realization of organizational goals and objectives.

In addition, the social media popularity in the workplace is very beneficial since it gives enough room for employees to engage in other tasks as all communication and necessary information is available at the employees’ desk (Renckstorf & Wester, 2011). As evident from the study, out of the 40 participants who responded 40% agreed that the social media popularity has a lot of impact in the workplace as it leaves more time for work because the latest and the most important news are within arm’s reach (Porumbescu, 2016). There are various platforms through which employees can easily find the latest and the most important information (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011).

Nevertheless, a lot of concerns have been raised over the increased popularity and use of social media for official communication both in the public and private sector. The results from this study indicated that majority of the respondents (47.2%) agreed that there is a need for senior management’s strict control of the social media as a means of office communication in order to enhance efficiency of the communication. In addition, 17% of the study participants strongly agreed, while 9.4% were undecided, 24.5% disagreed and 1.9% strongly disagreed. Overly, 64.2% respondents felt that the efficiency of the social media as a means of communication can only be achieved if there is strict control by the senior management.

Several studies have been conducted that show that there are high chances of misuse of social media available in offices (La Ferle & Morimoto, 2009; Mehta, 2015). This can be attributed to the fact that it is easy for employees to use available social media platforms for personal matters. For this reason, Kim, Sin, and He, (2013) asserted that there is need for effective control of such media platforms to ensure that they are strictly used for official communications only.

One of the ways of controlling the efficiency of social media platforms available in offices is ensuring effective monitoring systems (Karakiza, 2015). On the other hand, internal communications ought to be formal as this helps to keep employees focused on official tasks. As evident form the study, most of the participants (49.7%) agreed that formal internal communications is very important in ensuring that employees remain focused on their tasks.

Even though there are several benefits of social media use for internal communication, there are a number of disadvantages that come along with such use (Islam & Gul, 2012). For example, study results showed that the use of social media platforms in the office adversely affects the personal space of employees. This can be inferred from the high number of respondents who agreed (44.2%) and those who strongly agreed (23.1%) that the increasing popularity of social media in the working place restrains the employees’ personal space. This is attributable to the fact that social media applications in the workplace are just another tool for monitoring their activities (Hutchins, 2012). Secondly, social media use for internal communication adversely affects existing organizational communication channels.

From the results and findings of this study, it can be seen social media is increasingly becoming popular as a means of communication, not only among the young population but also among the middle-aged and the aging population. Many companies are currently using social media platforms as means of advertising their products. However, the corporate society is yet to accept social media as a platform that can be used to pass official communications.

In Dubai, the government has strict policies regarding the use of social media among the public servants. This has made it difficult for public institutions to use social media as a means of passing internal communication. In this study, a review of literature indicates that in the near future, communication will be majorly based on the social media. For this reason, there is a need for both public and private institutions to embrace the use of social media and learn to deal with challenges associated with it.

Ability to manage time and meet targets

The study on the social media use and impact for internal communications in Dubai public sector aimed at investigating the extent to which social media is used in public offices, determining the relevance of social media in passing internal communications within public institutions, determining the challenges associated with social media use in public institutions, as well as coming up with effective ways of solving problems related to social media use in public institutions. All the study objectives were achieved within the scheduled time of 9 weeks as projected.

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