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BizReport : Internet : August 23, 2011

Study: Employees that 'cyberloaf' are more productive

Do you worry about the amount of time your employees spend 'cyberloafing'? Don't let it concern you too much because, according to a new study by staff at the University of Singapore, allowing staff to browse the Internet at work might actually be a good thing.

by Helen Leggatt

Research presented last week at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Texas revealed that 'cyberloafing', or web browsing at work, enhances productivity and refreshes tired workers' minds more so than other activities.

Browsing the Internet is better for productivity than texting with friends or sending personal emails, found the study "Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement," by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim.

The reasons behind the positive effects of browsing the Internet are logical. Dr Lim said in an email that "people 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."

The task of replying to emails, on the other hand, was more mentally demanding and less relaxing.

"First, the compelling need to reply to a received e-mail impedes employees' psychological engagement by affecting their ability to concentrate," the researchers said in a release. "Second, when employees reply to these e-mails, they experience resource depletion, negative affect and workflow disruption."

And finally, if you are thinking of increasing the monitoring of employee Internet use at work, consider this. The research found that excessive Internet monitoring only served to make employees do it more.

The reports concludes by suggesting employers "strike a middle ground between work and cyberloafing... allow[ing] for personal Web usage as long as it is in line with business objectives. In light of this study, an acceptable Internet use policy would allow for periodic Web browsing while limiting the access to personal e-mails."

Tags: employee relations, Internet use, research

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