social media cyberloafing
July 1, 2014

Cyberloafing In The Workplace – Who Are The Biggest Culprits?

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

A new study from researchers in Norway has found that people who like to browse social media at work tend to be male, single and/or have a higher education.

Published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, the “cyberloafing” study also found that managers have a negative attitude toward social media at work, but top-level managers admitted to doing it the most.

“It is very interesting that top executives, who are negative to private web-surfing during working hours, are the ones who surf the most for private purposes when at work,” said study author Cecilie Schou Andreassen, a postdoctoral social science research fellow at the University of Bergen, in a recent statement.

Schou Andreassen argued that this could have something to do with top-level managers seeing more of a blending between their work and private life. Therefore, going on social media during the day has less of a negative connotation than for someone whose job is confined to the time they are at work.

“It is likely that managers are worried about reductions in output and financial loss as a result of use of private social media among their employees,” Schou Andreassen said.

Based on a survey of about 11,000 Norwegians, the study also found that being male, single and educated all have a positive correlation with using social media at work.

“Social media probably has a greater social function for singles than it has for people in relationships,” Schou Andreassen said.

She noted that the positive effect of these demographics could simply be a sign of familiarity with computer use or working in a personal office.

“The finding may also reflect that people with a high socioeconomic status, are not as afraid to lose their job as those in low-status jobs,” Schou Andreassen said. “In addition, high rollers may be more interested in social media to advance their career.”

The Norwegian study also revealed that people considered to be extroverted and “neurotic” - personalities at the seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum - are heavy users of social media at work. Also, people who were found to be regimented and regularly punctual did not indulge in cyberloafing.

“While outgoing people in general enjoy being social, anxious people may prefer to communicate digitally rather than in stress-inducing real life situations,” Schou Andreassen said. “Ambitious people with a sense of order may surf less than others for private purposes, but will probably use the web actively for work-related business during office hours.”

For managers looking to crack down on social media use, the study found strict guidelines and limited access do have a mitigating effect.

“Good regulations combined with motivational work challenges can prevent private browsing during work hours,” Schou Andreassen said. While a heavy work load was also associated with limited social media use, the Bergen researcher did not recommend using this as a means to limit cyberloafing.

“Although a demanding workload limits browsing, it is not recommended that managers overload their staff with work to prevent them from using private social media,” she said, adding that it hasn’t been determined if cyberloafing is connected to lower productivity.

“The research conducted provides conflicting answers to this. Some studies suggest that companies suffer financial losses as a result of private browsing; while other studies suggest that private browsing has the same refreshing effect on the mind-set as going for a walk,” Schou Andreassen concluded.

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