Let them eat cyberloaf!
Science is a tricky, tricky son-of-a-gun. One minute we think we have something all figured out. Think we know real hard facts, like going to work, flipping on the computer, heading to BeachGrit, chatting with best friends in the comments or – even better – watching a full eight hours of online surf contest while getting paid to do something else (read: work) is devious, at best. Lightly criminal, at second best.
The next minute we learn that BeachGritting, Wozzling, Instagramming Kelly Slater then getting involved in flat-earth debates just to get the GOAT’s goat is not only healthy but increases employee productivity.
Let’s waste time deciding for ourselves. Let’s dig straight in to the Chicago Sun Times and sort the pieces out together.
If you’re like most workers, you don’t spend 100% of your time at the office doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
In fact, on average, U.S. workers spend about 10% of their work day surfing the internet, emailing friends or shopping online. This so-called cyberloafing costs employers up to US$85 billion a year.
But it turns out, these behaviors may not be a sign a worker is lazy or just wasting time. New research I conducted with several colleagues suggests cyberloafing can help workers cope with an exceptionally stressful work environment.
Existing research on cyberloafing, a term first coined in 2002 by researchers from the National University of Singapore, typically assumes that this behavior is problematic and counterproductive.
Therefore, the majority of cyberloafing research focuses on ways to deter employees from engaging in this behavior through interventions such as internet monitoring and computer use policies.
However, more recent research has found that using the internet at work for personal purposes may also have some positive outcomes. For instance, social media use at work has been linked to higher levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction.
And other studies indicate that cyberloafing may provide a way for employees to manage workplace stress. For instance, empirical research suggest that employees surf the web as a response to boredom and unclear instructions.
But is cyberloafing actually effective at reducing employee stress levels?
Blah, blah, blah… study, study, study.
Overall, about 65% of participants reported spending at least some time at work cyberloafing, in mostly moderate amounts, with the most common form being the use of personal email.
While we did not directly assess how cyberloafing affects worker performance, we believe that by relieving stress this buffering effect may ultimately help employees be more productive. This fits with other recent research that suggests taking short breaks throughout the work day is indirectly associated with higher levels of daily job performance.
And there we have it.
Where’s your favorite place to cyberloaf?
Should BeachGrit bake and sell actual cyberloafs?
How would they be flavored?