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Quarter of Workers' Time Online Is Personal 248

sloit writes "Most people spend more than 25 per cent of their time online at work on personal activities. And 80 per cent of emails sent by volume in the workplace are personal. Bosses often have no way of tracking Internet activity or policies to define what staff can and cannot do. Paul Hortop, who reviews company network security for consultancy Voco, said the most common websites visited by personal web surfers were online trading sites, instant messaging/chat services and peer-to-peer sharing sites (allowing movie, music and software sharing)."
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Quarter of Workers' Time Online Is Personal

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  • gbtw... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) <jonaskoelker&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:05AM (#25150793)

    the most common websites visited by personal web surfers were online trading sites, instant messaging/chat services and peer-to-peer sharing sites

    Cue the collective "You left out slashdot!"

    And GBTW!

    • Re:gbtw... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by electrictroy ( 912290 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:23AM (#25151085)

      >>>25 per cent of their time online at work on personal activities.


      And before computers existed, they spent 25 percent of their time standing-around the water cooler, or sitting at their desks daydreaming.

      • I wish I had mod points to give you.

        It's pretty obvious from anybody that's worked in a corporate setting that people will screw off to fill in the time they have.

        Unless you eliminate positions, making work simpler and making systems faster usually don't yield more productivity.

        That's what we see anyways, YMMV.

      • Re:gbtw... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfr ... .net minus physi> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:24AM (#25152037) Homepage Journal

        The best milk comes from the happiest cows.

        If you want to squeeze every last penny of time out of your workers, then you had better be prepared for the drop in productivity and quality that follows. This isn't to say that you should be providing lazer tag sets and two hour lunches to use them in. But it does mean that if you create a work environment with the rules of a gulag, then can expect good workers to leave, middling workers to become poor, and poor workers to either bomb, revolt or take advantage of the situation. In effect you will be spelling the end of your business.

        Just like cows, it doesn't take a lot to keep workers happy either. Friendly environment, free food, good furniture, understanding they have outside lives. These things cost you little, but deliver far more. If people like where they work and who they work with, they won't want to leave. Balance in all things of course, but at the end of the day, allowing geeks to browse Slashdot, or people to call back home will cost you far less than insisting you get back every nanosecond of the time you pay for. After all, what is it that you do at work all day?

        If you want the best milk, you need the best cows, but also the best fields.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by smoker2 ( 750216 )
        And from a recent discussion about the differences between US and European work practices, it was generally agreed that the Europeans get the same amount of work done in 8 hours, that it takes the US 10 hours to do. Yet the US employees slack off while they're at work and then bitch about working long hours.
        Not to mention the cost of paying for all the infrastructure while the employees are slacking off. Not just the net, but AC, maintenance, sewerage, lighting etc. Business exists to make money, not provid
        • Re:gbtw... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:59AM (#25152577) Homepage

          of course, if you are one of the workers who *can* get it done in less time, in many situations you are probably still expected to be there.

          If everyone in your company is working the 10 hour day, even if you *can* do it in 8, you may not be able to leave so it seems reasonable that people would insert more interspersed downtime into their work to stretch the work out to fill the day...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            I think it would be interesting to see a system in which you were given specific responsibilities, instead of a schedule, and left to yourself when and how much time to finish them. You'd have an overall deadline, but more flexibility to set up your working times.

            Of course, I'm talking about a humanely designed workload, not the current abuse of salaried employment to get loads of free overtime. I guess I've answered my own question here about where that would go in our current environment.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tompaulco ( 629533 )
          And from a recent discussion about the differences between US and European work practices, it was generally agreed that the Europeans get the same amount of work done in 8 hours, that it takes the US 10 hours to do.
          They'd pretty much have to in order to get the same amount of work in while having 4-6 weeks of paid vacation and more holidays than U.S. people and not working 3/4 of the hours that the typical U.S. IT person has to work.
          Just try getting in touch with anybody in the European office in August.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        An old professor of mine once said in a History of Technology course that, to paraphrase, "New technology is always used in the way old technology was." Always stuck with me, but I feel it's relevant.

  • by paulatz ( 744216 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:05AM (#25150797)
    It's about 100% for me, e.g. I'm at work now
  • No posts? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:06AM (#25150801) Homepage

    Everyone reading this article started doing their job?

    • Yes, um, I classify slashdot as continual education for my vocation. Sometimes even R&D :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by thepotoo ( 829391 )

      If you mod this up, your slashdot background will turn into a beautiful sunset!

      OK, I modded you up, but my background didn't change, so I'm posting this to undo the mod.

  • Unlikely To Change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcnnghm ( 538570 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:06AM (#25150819)

    People have always found ways to waste time at work, and that's not going to change any time soon. Trying to make it stop will only breed resentment, lower employee morale, and reduce productivity. I frequently take short work breaks to work on personal stuff, especially when I am trying to think through a problem.

    • by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:19AM (#25150991) Homepage Journal
      25% of Workers' Time Online Is Personal, Beancounters Horrified

      "It's the principle of the matter!", commented one beancounter, completely forgetting he has the wrong principles to start with.

    • by jeevesbond ( 1066726 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:43AM (#25151435) Homepage

      Acquantance of mine owns a light manufacturing business. When he first wrote-up his business plan he went to see his bank manager (yeah, no shit Sherlock). This bloke looked at his figures, in particular at the throughput estimates. This is roughly how the conversation went:

      Bank manager: why have you based your throughput on 7.5 hours of work per employee?

      Entrepreneur: because they work 8-5, with one hour for lunch and two 15 minute breaks.

      Bank manager: well you can cut that in half for a start.

      Entrepreneur: Why?

      Bank manager: employees only work productively for 50% of the time.

      (my apologies if any of my manufacturing parlance is off)

      The bank manager was spot-on with his prediction too. It doesn't matter if it's on Slashdot or pissing around on the shop floor, employees will always waste time.

      I'd bet money the kind of micro-managers that like to complain about this are sneaking onto Yahoo! Finance, to look at their personal stocks, when they think no-one is looking though.

      Also, there's a fault with the article:

      Quarter of Workers' Time Online Is Personal

      What if a worker only goes online during their allocated break time? Surely we need an accurate percentage of worker's total time at work is spent on personal Internet surfing. That wouldn't draw enough sensationalist headlines though! :)

      • by jcnnghm ( 538570 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:55AM (#25151629)

        To take this a bit further, I was working with a financial services company, and for years the staff was allowed to listen to internet radio at their desks, which virtually everyone did. Recently, their partner company was taken over my a much larger organization, that filtered out the internet radio as well as many other "time wasters" with their web filtering.

        Not only did this filtering interfere with getting actual work done (e.g. couldn't access some websites that could provide valuable information), they found that at the end of the quarter productivity had dropped a full 15%. The internet radio helped prevent the mental fatigue associated with performing mentally taxing tasks all day. Sometimes people need a context switch to stay productive.

        • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:09PM (#25152699)

          The "context switch" you mention is incredibly important. I have pretty varied responsibility at work (the downside of working in an IT department with a total staff of 12 people). Sometimes I'll be doing almost nothing but coding for days on end - sometimes I'll have nothing at all to do. Sometimes I'll have email server issues. Right now I'm manually creating a conversion table to switch a land classification system in one old system to a better system that we're implementing. In short, sometimes my work gets monotonous.

          I've found that if I stick to it straight for hours on end, not only do I get cranky and less productive, but I also feel so drained that I often don't even feel like doing anything when I get home. So, I take an approach of working diligently for 40-45 minutes, and then going off and doing something else (personal email, Slashdot, whatever) for 10-15 minutes. Doing that I generally get more done and feel much less drained when I get home at the end of the day. You just have to have something to break up the chores that you have to perform.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:06AM (#25151797) Homepage

      You have no idea how untrue that is. Have you ever worked on a factory production line, have you worked on a building site for a subcontrator, have you ever worked any where that you are in fact supervised for the entire eight hours shift plus overtime.

      All places where middle management spend their whole day squeezing every bit of labour of the workers they can. Not to belabour the point, but the strangest thing of all is the more you get paid the less you work and the less you are supervised but work on minimum wage, the very worst pay, and you are supervised constantly and you will get fired for slacking off.

      You also get absolutely no internet access, no email, personal phone calls are restricted and even toilet breaks are monitored. People who get it easy should always think of those that get it much worse, not that you should join the as slave labour for minimum wage but, you should always consider ways that their work conditions should be improved (man those people really are underpaid for their miserable work conditions).

      When it comes to professionals of course I forecast that the biggest time waster in the future will be UMPC's and unmonitored cellular internet access.

  • by earnest murderer ( 888716 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:07AM (#25150823)

    who cares.

    If not, fire them.

    Chime the horde of corporate apologists and micromanagers pissing in the wind.

    • who cares. If not, fire them.

      This is the correct answer. Salaried employees are hired to do a specific job, not work a particular number of hours. Thus it is at the discretion of the employer to decide whether or not that job is getting accomplished. If an employee manages to work only 2 hours a day but accomplishes more work than his 8-hour/day peers, why would an employer complain?

      This aspect of being a salaried employee is actually codified in US law. (See: Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 for "exempt" employees) The law was configured for workers who may end up working odd hours or irregular hours or traveling for their employer. Since the job is much more complex than just "lift this item" or "cut this metal", charging on an hourly basis does not make sense.

      Long story short? This is a non-story. If any employer believes that his employees performance is sub-par, he should take it up with the individual employees directly rather than concerning himself with the details of their personal internet surfing.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:29AM (#25151175) Homepage

        If an employee manages to work only 2 hours a day but accomplishes more work than his 8-hour/day peers, why would an employer complain?



        Many managers out there are way too stupid to understand a guy that can work in very intense bursts and then assume they can operate that way 24/7

        • by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:00AM (#25151699)
          I once worked a full 6 of 8 hours in one day... Turns out I did 3x more than my coworkers did.

          Now I feel guilty that I did too much and am making my peers look bad... so... you'll see me around here more :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pbhj ( 607776 )

          Many managers out there are way too stupid to understand a guy that can work in very intense bursts and then assume they can operate that way 24/7

          This is capitalism. You have one guy who can work for 45 years for you at 60% productivity. But you want 80%+ so you squeeze him until he breaks and then get another guy to do his job. You pay lower wages and keep some movement in your workforce that allows you to adjust headcount down easily (you just let a few workers drop off and don't hire more).

          That guy you mention can probably operate at "burst rate" for 8 hours a day, just not for more than one day. The money chasers only care at the balance point be

      • by Fishead ( 658061 )

        I work probably 8 hours a week for my employer, plus maybe 15 hours a week driving to a job site. The rest of the time? Sitting on slashdot ready to spring into action!

        I may not put in a lot of hours, but when they need something done, I do a darn fine job of it. In about 15 minutes I am leaving to drive 3 hours to do a 15 minute repair job then go back home.

        If my boss were to start giving me grief over not working 40 hours a week, he knows I would be out of there, and then he would be stuck where he was

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi ( 78078 )

        Nice in theory, but it does not always work out that way.

        On the one side you will have people who get employed and get things done in 2 hours and then could go home.

        On the other side you have employers who give you so much to do that you need to work 16 hours instead of taking 2 people who work 8 hours.

        Both extrem examples, but 1 hour per person is already a nice amount of money you do not need to pay.

        So I do work 8 hours and if they wish to give me only two hours work then I do /. for 6. If they give me 9

  • No way of tracking? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Serenissima ( 1210562 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:08AM (#25150841)

    Bosses often have no way of tracking Internet activity

    Bosses have no way of tracking Internet activity? Maybe they should read the rest of the article...

    Paul Hortop, who reviews company network security for consultancy Voco, said the most common websites visited by personal web surfers were online trading sites, instant messaging/chat services and peer-to-peer sharing sites (allowing movie, music and software sharing)."

    Seems like they can track Internet activity pretty well?

    • by digitalgiblet ( 530309 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:22AM (#25151049) Homepage Journal
      This article was no more than a press release for Mr. Hortop to drum up more business for his company Voco. If a microscopic fraction of the people who read the article contact him, then he had a successful zero-cost marketing campaign...
    • They have no way of tacking what I do when I'm ssh'd to my own machine at home!

      • I was going to reply... but you had it first.

        For those that aren't in the 'know'. Download Putty, or PortaPutty. Enter a "dynamic" tunnel under SSH and SSH to any host. In Firefox set it up to use a SOCKS proxy.

        If you can't install FireFox, use PortableFirefox.

        They recently 'shutoff' the internet to all the test cell operators where I work. They ingeniously just hid Internet Options in IE but RegEdit still works. We new have a rogue '.reg' file floating around which restores this.

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) * on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:08AM (#25150845) Journal
    I come to work at nine, work straight till 5, and bring lunch in. About 5-10 minutes of every hour are spent checking personal emails, calling my home internet service, calling back the health insurance compan, etc. A lot of stuff can only get done during the day. Plus, a lot of other employees spend 10 minutes every hour outside smoking. Big deal.. my boss knows I don't spend every minute staring at my code, but he also knows that it's important to renew the mind regularly in order to maintain quality.
    • Maybe that says more about the American work environment. Are Europeans goofing off more?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yukk ( 638002 )
      Exactly. There is goofing off and then there is taking a break to refresh your mind. Sometimes I get "in the zone" and work flat out for hours forgetting to have lunch and sometimes I find that there's a typo and I stare at the code and I just can't see it. Staring for another hour won't help. Wandering off to think about something else, get a coffee, talk to the receptionist or "goofing off" means I come back with a fresh outlook. Then there's stuff that has to be done between 9 and 5 (or 10 and 4 for
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Looks like a normal day where I have worked and work. In fact it is the law in Belgium.

      Start , have a lunch break and stop at the end of the day. The Lunch break is a minimum of 30 minutes. These are the working hours. Where I work a total of 7h12m per day. This is what you get payed for. No pay during your lunch break.

      During your first and your second 'shift' you also have a 10 minute break that you can use however you desire. Many take it as a smoke break or use it to look things up for you personally. Th

  • by assantisz ( 881107 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:13AM (#25150899)
    ... why would anybody care about this? Just make sure the online activities are legal and according to company policies (no porn or hate sites, for example). There is absolutely no need to go beyond that. Let the employees have some downtime.
  • Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:14AM (#25150927) Homepage

    If you do the work you're supposed to be doing then so far as I can see you're free to do whatever you like with the rest of the time you spend at work.

    • If you do the work you're supposed to be doing then so far as I can see you're free to do whatever you like with the rest of the time you spend at work.

      I agree with you. As long as I'm making my deadlines and writing acceptable code, I don't see why management should get pissy about me slacking off from time to time. They never bitch about the smokers taking fifteen minute breaks five times a day.

  • by osopolar ( 826106 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:19AM (#25150997)
    How about this ... don't pay people for their time anymore. Pay them for what they know or for what they do. Performance based incentive is better than straight salary. Get rid of the attitude that I Mr. big shot employer am your boss as long as you are on the clock. Get a new attitude that you can't control peoples lives by the second. This has most likely gone on from the dawn of employment - now thanks to the internet we can track it by the second. PEACE!
  • 25% (Score:3, Funny)

    by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:21AM (#25151021)

    I don't code *without* having a browser window open. Sometimes for looking things up that are concerned with work, but more often because I like to take a quick random browse now and then while I ponder something (why are there no easy programming problems when you get decent pay?).

    My boss knows, and doesn't care. All that matters is the code required is delivered in a reasonable time.

    Sure, not browsing the web for 'personal use' would speed things up, but then I'd be less happy, which would impact work quality.

    By my calculation I've been paid £5.30 to read slashdot today.

    [turns round to tell boss]

    Yup, no problem.

  • the most common websites visited by personal web surfers were online trading sites, instant messaging/chat services and peer-to-peer sharing sites

    Everyone where I work (for state government) must go through our proxy except for a select few circumstances. All the sites listed above are blocked and a nice warning message comes up if you try to get to one of them.

    How bosses can't know where their employees are going on the intertubes is beyond me as we have people checking the log files and see the peo

    • "How bosses can't know where their employees are going on the intertubes is beyond me as we have people checking the log files and see the people trying to get to, and for 20 minutes at"

      I noticed you didn't turn those into clickable links. :)

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      How bosses can't know where their employees are going on the intertubes is beyond me as we have people checking the log files and see the people trying to get to, and for 20 minutes at a time

      my vpn connection to home kicks the proxy overlords in the nuts hard and only leaves a note that I was hard at work.

  • I am surprised that the number is a low as 25%.
  • by TractorBarry ( 788340 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:21AM (#25151041) Homepage

    I'm paid to perform a job of work. Not to watch the clock. If something has to be ready for, say, Friday then assuming it's possible I'll get it ready for Friday. In the meantime I might talk to some colleagues, surf the 'net etc. etc. Guess what ? the work gets done.

    Managers who think you should be spending every second of the working day "working" are idiots. If that's what you want employ a robot.

    Employers who are stuck with this Victorian "factory clock punch" mentality rarely do well as working for them sucks and anyone with half a brain leaves at the earliest opportunity (been there, done that). The ones left usually spend most of their time in a fug of resentment and when forced to perform do so with minimum effort.

    Ho hum, another silly management study.

    • "Managers who think you should be spending every second of the working day "working" are idiots. If that's what you want employ a robot."

      *surveys the landscape*

      Looks like they are. Just because some professions don't lend themselves to complete automation presently doesn't mean we should be complacent.

  • FTFA:

    I'd be inclined to say Hellboy fits into that geek community where people are technology-literate and using peer-to-peer file sharing.

    Often the people abusing resources will be more technology-literate than the people responsible for the security of the network. CIOs and CEOs are often a little distant from the technologies they're responsible for.

    The CEOs are not expected to be sysadmins. The CIOs are expected to know the big picture of systems administration, not the latest 0-days, brand new intrusion detection prevention system or other details.

    But if the users outhack the on-the-floor sysadmins who do the work (not the ones who decide that it must be done), why aren't they put to use in the IT department? On the face of it, this looks like horrible mismanagement: "our non-IT staff are better at IT than our IT staff". Utilize the staff whe

    • Utilize the staff where they show their competence.

      IFF they want to be utilized that way.

      On the face of it, this looks like horrible mismanagement

      I fundamentally disagree. Job satisfaction, work output, and so many other measures are not dependent upon putting the most efficient person in a job. A Microeconomics class would disillusion believers of that notion very quickly. Economically, it would be putting the person relatively most efficient in the job (who might be the least efficient overall).

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:23AM (#25151075) Homepage
    Without a comparison, that information is useless.

    How about listing the percentage of time on the phone AFTER work that is for work?

    Or how about listing the percent of people's free time that is taken by 'overtime'. Or emails from work received in my personal email box.

    Or at the VERY least they need to see how much of that 'time spent on line' was done during 9-5 and how much of that 'time spent on line' was during overtime hours.

    For many people, it could be 25% spent of online time at work is 'personal', but 90% of that is done in their 9th hour at work. I.E. I really need to be shopping for a birthday present for my wife but the boss needs me here at work, so I'll log on and get something from Amazon while I'm waiting for Joe to call me back with the answer to my question.

  • I work for a rather large computer company - you've seen our ads. If we don't want our users to get out on the internet, our firewall will block them.

    nothing more to see here - unless I can throw some common sense in your general direction.
  • Too bad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lilith's Heart-shape ( 1224784 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:31AM (#25151205) Homepage
    Most of my coworkers spend fifteen minutes out of every hour outside smoking. I don't smoke, so why should I work harder than the smokers when I get paid less than they do?
  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:32AM (#25151221)

    Am the only person who thinks that it's amazing that many workers spend 75% of their on-line time doing work for their company? How much work can you do for your company on the web? I know there are specific jobs which require it, but most workers?

    We provide web access for all workers because there's that 10% or 5% of the time they use it where it's actually necessary for the company. We also provide it, sometimes, to improve their quality of life, and reduce the amount of time they spend away from the job on personal stuff.

    Doesn't the 25% number seem absurdly low?

    • Mod parent up! (Score:3, Informative)

      by argent ( 18001 )

      That's a good point, this study didn't say that 25% of the employee's time was personal, but 25% of their online activity was personal.

      • so if an average worker spends an hour doing work online per day, and then spends 15 minutes of that time reading the news or ordering something from amazon, you'd get this same alarmist headline.
    • by WDot ( 1286728 )
      I surfed the web a lot to answer questions that my head developer did not know the answer to, as a replacement for reference books, and occasionally to test or troubleshoot the site we were working on. I can see programmers using it instead of hefting books, but there may be need for it elsewhere.
  • I wonder what we'll talk about when he sees me reading this sla...oh shit Ctrl+F4
  • by darkvizier ( 703808 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:32AM (#25151237)

    Bob Slydell: You see, what we're actually trying to do here is, we're trying to get a feel for how people spend their day at work... so, if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?

    Peter Gibbons: Yeah.

    Bob Slydell: Great.

    Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh heh - and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.

    Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?

    Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

  • I guess this makes up for a lot of personal time away from the office spent checking email, blackberry, and phone calls.
  • The only real response required to this is that it's systemic - everybody does it. Sure, you may be able to fire the very worst offenders and replace them with more productive employees, but when it's systemic, who are you going to replace them with?

    That's right, more workers who will use the Internet for personal time.

    There's no solution, period. Everybody looks at it from the simple perspective of "should this person be punished / fired", but human resources also has to consider the hiring side of any emp

  • With the advent of Blackberries, etc more time outside of work hours is given up to work. Therefore during work hours that missing personal time is being made up because there is no other time to do it. I'm not sure why employer's don't get this. You can't magically add more hours to someone's workday

  • I just bought an iPrism to block P2P protocols at work. The reason is that it is a potential legal liability for the company if employees are downloading movies at work and the company does nothing to stop it. I also blocked most video websites to save on bandwidth.

    However this filtering is not about productivity. I actually explicitly allowed sports websites among other things. People need to give their brain a rest sometimes as long as they know how to balance that then everything is fine.
  • compiling
  • I have started a new foundation, "1% for Slashdot"

    The campaign is basically to spread awareness and understanding that 1% of my surfing time is wasted right here! ;)
  • by __aattwy1646 ( 447296 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:56AM (#25151643)

    This is why we should be moving towards the Results Only Work Environment ( Stories like this are based on the workplace as it was 50 years ago, it's a lot different today. Performance should be based on what you get done; Employees shouldn't have to worry if they are 'appearing' busy.

  • For some, working 4-8 hours straight (depending on when your lunch break is) on an intellectually demanding job is mentally exhausting to the point of being unrealistic. Some people need "personal time" so they don't get burned out, and are much more efficient if they have breaks more often.

  • Amateurs.

  • Just because it's not directly work related, doesn't mean it won't help your job or company. Besides making employees happier by not cracking down on 'personal' browsing directly, there are other benefits. For one, there have been countless times at my (second) job where I've come across articles I've spent during 'personal' browsing and later told my boss about, which he would find interesting. He's come back to me many times thanking me for that read since it could actually help out the company as a whole

  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrZaius ( 321037 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:37AM (#25152249) Homepage

    I say this as both a manager and an employee:

    The minor loss of potentially productive time described here (25% of some undefined (didn't RTFA) percentage of the user's overall work time) is blown on personal tasks and unofficial communication not explicitly related to work..... and? This doesn't seem even remotely unusual, regardless of the availability of an Internet connection. Aside from those few jobs where contractors and the like bust their ass 12-14 weeks a quarter like in construction work, having an adequate amount of time off in between tasks, I'd say the distraction of socializing with your colleagues and dealing with certain personal matters is often a positive thing. If you're working 9-5 and you present the choice to your boss that you've either got to take an afternoon of leave to deal with your financial matters outside of the office or that you could accomplish two hours from the office via electronic means if he/she wants you to stick around, I'd expect most bosses to just roll with it. If you're working nights under my supervision and you pull up a flash game of Tetris after remedying a server outage that dominated your time and energy so much that you obviously need time to switch gears, you've earned your rewards. If you're working under me and you've got 40 tasks assigned to you and, after working each of them to the point where you want to hit Slashdot, more power to you.

    Chew 'em out when it starts to prevent them from getting their tasks completed. Reward those who goof off less, but you must accept a reasonable minimum if you want your employees to be productive, sane, and present. Most people in adequately staffed organizations wouldn't think twice about a person who takes two or three short "coffee breaks" per day or a lawyer/congressman's intern/city councilman's assistant that chews through each days newspaper during work hours. Why should you care if someone CTRL-TABs into Google News or the Wikipedia for an hour a day? Judge your employees by specific goals set ahead of time, in a fair and equitable manner. Don't jerk them around for "misusing" company resources at no cost to the company and for being human enough to need to think about something other than work a couple of times per shift. You'll get more done and have a level of morale that you can't possibly build up by micromanaging people to the extent that the summary implies that you should.

  • by GBC ( 981160 ) * on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:54AM (#25152499)
    I recently read about a concept called Results-Only Work Environment [] (or ROWE for short) in a book called Why Work Sucks [] by Cali Ressler and Jodi Thompson []. The book is about a programme they implemented at Best Buy's corporate headquarters which lets people only be judged on results, not time.

    They did away with schedules, compulsory meetings etc. and it let them weed out people who accomplished nothing, whilst allowing everyone else take control of their own time. In other words, to bring it back to the article, they suggest that ALL time is personal - it doesn't matter how you do it, provided you get what you need to done on time. Staff retention, motivation and productivity went through the roof because of it. Unfortunately most workplaces aren't willing to treat their employees like adults so the idea is not exactly widespread (yet).

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