A Boost to Productivity?

Apr 13, 2011

I just read an article from www.dynamicbusiness.com entitled, "Website fitlering boosts staff productivity." The writer shares some pretty interesting statistics about cyberslacking in the workplace: 30-40% of internet use in the workplace is not related to business; and 37% of workers surf the web constantly while at work. As someone new to the business, I can't say this information is surprising despite the fact that it is shocking. The internet provides a quick and undetectable escape for employees from their regular workdays. The surprising thing I found on this page, however, was a link to a related article entitled, "Study proves surfing web boosts productivity." The author here sites a study done by the University of Melbourne, which claims to prove employees are more productive if they give themselves cyber breaks here and there, a practice dubbed, "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing."  You can watch a YouTube interview with the leading professor here.

So what is true? Is it better to allow "workplace internet leisure browsing," or is it better to prevent productivity loss altogether? Anyone who has studied statistics knows that the numbers will say what ever you want them to; you just have to help them tell the right story. In my mind, I presume there is a careful balance between the two tales. Yes, there may be times when accessing non-work-related material is important, but can too much be too much? If 37% of workers surf the web "constantly" while at work, that sounds like a problem. It's a no brainer that people should be working more than surfing while at work.

If both of these articles are true (which very well could be the case), then identifying the extremists would be the solution. Perhaps filtering software should not just limit Internet access but monitor employee behavior, as well.