Social capital RoI – preserving collaborative networks and work-life balance

I am in the midst of collecting interesting thoughts and remarks from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week in San Francisco (while preparing for the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT this week in Frankfurt) and this one caught my eye. Noticed this too during the life video stream from the conference, but it was only a side-remark then, and it’s more interesting in terms of RoI and “collaborative performance” than one sees at first sight. During a panel Booz Allen Hamilton VP Art Fritzson and senior associate Walton Smith shared their experiences integrating social and collaborative software into the BAH consulting business and argued like this (via Thomas Claburn at Information Week):

Enterprise 2.0, properly implemented, can create a barrier to exit.

[…] it can help companies retain valuable knowledge workers by weaving social bonds into the fabric of the workplace.

“People think twice about leaving and giving up all that”

Sounds a bit like “silk bondage” replacing the iron cask of lifetime-employment – but I wouldn’t be so negative, would I? It’s probably more about designing a workplace people enjoy and allowing the growth of employee’s social capital is good business practice with (hard to calculate but substantial) side benefits. Preserving functioning teams (and collaborative networks) by keeping people from leaving for good is one good benefit, OK.

Yet I wonder how this ties in with a caring for work-life balance – nurturing human-relations to colleagues, partners and bosses is vital, but this isn’t the social life of people alone. Entertaining a campus cafeteria, pet barber shop and sports facilities might be good for people with work-related friends mostly, but this is worrying me a bit. What’s your take, am I too negative and “german” again?

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