Personal use of the Internet at work does not reduce labor productivity

Usage of Internet

Today, more and more companies are trying to control the activities of their employees (artificial intelligence is even attracted to this) and to ensure that they do not surf the Internet during working hours.

The train of thought of such directors is easy to understand: less time on the Web – more time to work. But perhaps this is fundamentally the wrong approach.

An international team of researchers from Israel and the United States found that the phenomenon called cyberloafing, that is, the useless use of the Internet, is in fact not counterproductive.

Scientists explain that they were interested in understanding what motivates people to go to the Internet instead of work. Initially, it was assumed that people are sitting on social networks, online stores or reading their favorite blogs out of boredom. And this version was confirmed.

The authors invited 463 university workers in the southeastern United States to participate. They were asked to fill out special questionnaires that noted how often a person is bored in the workplace, how much time he spends on the Internet, what other types of “counterproductive behavior” are characteristic of him, and so on.

As a result, it turned out that “cyber idleness” directly depends on the so-called underloading of work affairs. In other words, if a person has managed to fulfill all his duties, and he needs to take some working time, then most likely, he will prefer to spend the remaining time on the Web.

Meanwhile, the classic versions of counterproductive behavior, by which specialists mean theft at work, sexual harassment, deliberate delay, and other similar violations, are in no way connected with boredom.

It turns out that communication on social networks or watching funny videos does not distract people from work and does not reduce labor productivity.

However, the authors also note that in some cases restrictions on visiting third-party sites are nevertheless necessary – for example if we are talking about the security of the organization or a possible “data dump”.

Now, psychologists are wondering if spending time on the Internet can help reduce stress and cheer up. There is an assumption that a certain kind of “cyber idleness” (for example, chatting with friends or watching videos with cute cats) helps to relax, while some other types of this activity, say, watching negative news, on the contrary, only increase the level of stress.

A scientific article from this study was published in Computers in Human Behavior.

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