Cyberloafing at Work Makes You More Productive

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Surfing the web at work for leisure makes you 9% more productive, a new study finds.

Now there’s something positive to tell your boss the next time you’re caught on Facebook or YouTube at work.

A new study finds that taking a break at work to browse the internet can boost your performance at work (Coker, 2014).

Dr. Brent Coker of Melbourne University was inspired to carry out the research after he forwarded a YouTube video to his sister.

He promptly got a message back saying the company she worked for blocked YouTube.

So he set out to examine whether a little web surfing, if it wasn’t excessive, was actually detrimental to workplace productivity.

In one study he had people at work take four different sorts of breaks:

  1. Surfing Facebook for 5 minutes.
  2. Internet break: comparing insurance companies (a good comparison for Facebook because you’re on the web, but comparing insurance companies, so presumably not enjoying yourself that much!).
  3. Stationary break: sitting, doing nothing.
  4. No break.

It turned out that people’s subsequent attention to their work was best for those who surfed Facebook for 5 minutes, compared with all the other conditions.

In another study, a survey revealed that younger workers found their attention was boosted by taking short breaks from work to surf the web.

Older workers, however, were not convinced of the benefits.

Dr. Coker thinks that taking short breaks from work to surf the web can actually make staff 9% more productive.

He concludes the research by saying:

“The implication of this research for managers is that WILB [Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing] should not necessarily be treated as ‘cyberloafing,’ whereby perpetrators should be punished.

Although excessive WILB may negatively impact worker performance by consuming time that would otherwise be spent performing work-related tasks, the present research suggests positive benefits within reasonable limits.”

Image credit: opensource.com

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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 20 July 2014

Text: © All rights reserved.

Images: Creative Commons License