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Cyberloafing—All work and no web-browsing makes Jack a dull boy

Cyberloafing—All work and no web-browsing makes Jack a dull boy

Forward this to your boss. A recent study has found that web browsing can make employees more refreshed and productive.

August 23, 2011 12:56 by

Ordinarily, Kipp is genuinely peeved when scientists spend pools of money and effort, studying a phenomenon only to come to a conclusion that is accepted as common knowledge. Like, scientists discover eating a bucket of butter everyday will lead to heart diseases. Y’know…the no shit Sherlocks. But when the no-brainer findings work to our advantage, well then, that is a completely different story.

If you are anything like Kipp, we feel quite certain you will appreciate the findings of one particular study titled “Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement” by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim of the National University of Singapore, which was presented last week in Texas at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, an association of management scholars (sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?).

The study found that, “web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared to other activities such as making personal calls, texts or emails.”

Talk about a no-brainer, but such findings can be the start of a revolution, especially for companies here in the UAE that are still stuck in the 1980’s and choose to monitor and restrict their employees’ internet access. Kipp knows of one company that does not allow its employees to access any social media sites (understandable), no newspaper websites—not even the business-related sections (inexcusable) and definitely do not allow them to visit Kipp (WHAT?!). Attempts to view restricted websites lead to a strict notification to the employee from Big Brother at the IT department that the system has made a note of your wayward attempts at peaking at the outside world. Very 1984, wouldn’t you agree?

If this describes your company, then take this report to your boss. Tell IT or HR that as these authors have found: “browsing the internet serves an important restorative function. (Because employees) usually choose to visit only the sites that they like—it’s like going for a coffee or snack break. Breaks of such nature are pleasurable, rejuvenating the web surfer.”

Scream until you are blue in the face and they should come around eventually. And then, log on to Kipp at the office for crying out loud!

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  1. Dismanirie on August 24, 2011 2:13 pm

    Generally speaking, companies invest in IT infrastructure in order to make performance of employees’ job responsibilities more efficient and effective, and not as a leisure or pleasure resource. Therefore some measure of restriction in the use of these facilities is both expected and recommended, especially to ensure that no employee is able to compromise the organisation through misuse or abuse of IT systems.

    However, there is a measure of truth in the fact that limited access to websites which are not related to the business can be stimulating and restorative. the question arises; where is the line to be drawn?

    Most network managers are savvy enough to protect systems from attack by viruses and worms which might be activated by surfing employees (cyberloafers), so the key issue is one of trust that the employee is not going to spend all his/her salaried hours writing blogs and in unproductive social intercourse.

    Well drawn up IT usage policies can be effective in alerting employees to their obligations and establish penalties for abuse. There is still a need for monitoring, so when penalties are imposed they should come as no surprise.

    Be selective in granting access, and ruthless in withdrawing it when evidence indicates misuse. Some companies implement a charge when the usage extends beyond a certain daily average period, by deducting salary for evidently unworked hours. It is then the responsibility of the employee to prove that the cyberloafing is productive time and contributes to his/her effectiveness on the job.

    There is no hard and fast rule, however. If a recruitment consultant is searching for a candidate online, they may visit numerous company and social websites to achieve a hit, whereas an accounts clerk may have no business straying “out of the box”.

    The best companies are flexible and rely on the fact that their employees have a job that keeps them occupied sufficiently to avoid wasting time on extraneous sites without genuine purpose. If it is a major problem in any organisation then they probably are overstaffed or have assigned people to the wrong jobs.

  2. Andrew on August 25, 2011 1:13 pm

    Dismanirie, I’d draw my own line at by companies deducting salary for evidently unworked hours.

    Considering that most people in a position to spend a bit of their time surfing are in roles where they are measured against targets and objectives, measuring someone’s contribution according to the number of hours worked is archaic at best. In most courts a company is innocent till proven guilty, similarly an employee should be treated as so.

    Do share what sort of companies have policies like that, so I can add them to my “Avoid” list.


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