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Internet Surfing Makes Productive Employees

April 3, 2009

Employees who spend time surfing the Web aren’t necessarily costing the company money. In fact, a new Australian study finds surfing the Internet for fun at the office increases productivity.

The University of Melbourne study found people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are typically 9 percent more productive than those who refrain from spending time on the Internet.

Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said “workplace Internet leisure browsing,” or WILB, helped to sharpened workers’ concentration.

“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” Coker said on the university’s website.

“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity,” he said.

The study examined 300 workers and found that 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB. The most popular activities included searching for information about products, reading online news sites, playing online games and watching videos on YouTube.

“Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity,” said Coker. “That’s not always the case.”

However, the findings only apply to people who moderately spend time on the Web, perhaps less than 20 percent of their total time in the office.

“Those who behave with Internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without,” he said.

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