Businesses should not prevent their staff from accessing social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, according to new research.

A study conducted by the Gartner Group has recommended that employers embrace these internet tools as a means of encouraging creativity and on-the-job collaboration.

Commenting on Gartner’s findings, David Lavenda, vice president of marketing and product strategy at WorkLight, stated: "Once secure access to Web 2.0 services is enabled, then the benefits of these services, which include collaboration, mind-sharing and professional social networking amongst employees, affiliates and partners, can be maximised."

He added that the research shows that businesses will soon require their IT security systems to provide secure access to social networking sites, rather than block them.

According to a report produced recently by Dimension Data, companies in the UK are adopting an increasingly sophisticated approach to dealing with staff internet use, with many opting to implement selected as opposed to outright bans on access.