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Online working is changing the way we work, says Ofcom

Social networking is increasingly taking hold in the office, as businesses look online for building contacts and finding work.

More than 40% of workers from 83 countries found work from a personal recommendation through an online relationship springing from business networking sites like LinkedIn, says a new Digital Generation survey published this week. Business networking on the web is beginning to change the way many people work as faster broadband allows easier remote working.

The research – published by Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK communications industries - shows that almost half of all UK internet users visit Facebook and spend an average six hours a month on the web site.

About 46% of 25 to 34-year-olds have a social networking website, while the figure for 35 to 54-year-olds is 35%.

The figures all show users aged under 25 are dropping away.

Other social networking sites are becoming more important to business users, but lag way behind Facebook’s 19 million users – for instance Bebo has 4 million users and Twitter have 2.6 million users.

Another key business networking site for entrepreneurs is Ecademy, a US site with a high number of UK users.

Outsourcing sites where skilled workers also bid for work are also threatening recruitment sites in sectors like web design, marketing and office support.

Rather than take someone on the payroll, it’s cheaper to find a professional freelancer on the web that can complete one-off tasks. Sites like Elance, Guru and PeoplePerHour allow employers to look at an international pool of workers and build teams of specialists.

Martin Warner, chief executive of TalkbizNow.com, a business social networking website, said: “The popularity of social networks is expected to continue to rise. They are now part of the fabric of people’s lives. But people are now becoming more strategic about the way they use social networks.

“We are seeing in the current recession more and more people turning to social networking sites to connect with potential employers. Companies – especially small businesses – are seeing the value of using this new media to find talent and win new business.”


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