"Venkat, how do I block facebook chats, gmail chats? Should I block the domains?".
Answer is No. If you block Facebook, Gtalk - your team will find workarounds. All it takes is a google search nowadays. It will annoy the team and you will get bracketed with the "manager" managers.
So - here are some tips on how to engage your team effectively and reduce the hours spent on SN sites.
1. Daily Stand Ups
This is the most simplest and effective tool. It is a core practice in agile projects - however it will work for any project / environment. There are tons of resources on effective standups. I will give a brief primer :
- Every one stands up - no slouching, no sitting. Keeps everyone alert and they talk less
- Stand in a circle like rugby teams.
- Give brief updates on what you did yesterday, what is your plan today, and any impediments in doing your work
- Any long discussions do it after the standup.
- The standup is sacred ( start on the same time daily, cut off trolling etc.. ). You have to protect its sanctity :)
Advantage is - the team's productivity will increase. They number of hours spent on idling will start coming down because the next day you have to give an update.
2. Give more responsibility
Ideally visiting social networking sites should be used to take a break from work - not the other way round. So make sure the plate is full. And coupled with standups they will try to finish off the work promptly.
3. Knowledge sharing sessions
You can introduce regular knowledge sharing sessions - can be on any topic - team could watch a TED talk, someone can critique on a movie, present on the new social media or any area you think will help the team become better. This will involve preparation ( except for TED talks of course ) and will also create a good competitive spirit.
So follow the above steps and your team will adore you and they will invite you for the informal team outings :)