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Web Surfing At Work Can Boost Productivity 134

An anonymous reader writes "The Wall Street Journal reports on a study into productivity and efficiency in the workplace, which found that people who are given a break to surf the web return to their work with 'lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom and higher levels of engagement.' Researchers tested against two other groups; one continued working, and one was given a break that did not involve web browsing. They concluded that 'browsing the Internet serves an important restorative function.' In contrast, dealing with personal email was 'particularly distracting.' In the end, the researchers recommended that employers loosen restrictions on employee web access." This backs up a similar study out of Australia from a couple years ago.
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Web Surfing At Work Can Boost Productivity

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  • by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Monday August 22, 2011 @12:11PM (#37168264) Homepage
    That's why we're here. At least, those of us who aren't independently wealthy or basement-dwelling leaches. :)
  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Monday August 22, 2011 @12:15PM (#37168308) Homepage

    This is trivially true as long as relaxation doesn't mean distraction.

  • by sageres ( 561626 ) on Monday August 22, 2011 @12:18PM (#37168330)

    Don't know... been surfing since 9 am (it is 12:15 now) and being Monday don't feel like doing Jack...
    A coworker just came by and he started off with famous cliche, "So, are you working hard or hardly working?"
    I chuckle.
    We stood for the next 30 minutes discussed everything from current political realities in Middle East to the greatest newest phone gadget on a market.
    Yup that's how my day goes.
    Someone once told me that out of 8 hours we only in reality work like 1. The rest we pretend. I tend to believe that.

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Monday August 22, 2011 @12:30PM (#37168444) Homepage

    Biased result - what they should have done was give people a set amount of time work to do, gave them the same amount of money, and then measured the productivity of the two groups. Instead, they put the first group to work for the full 30 minutes and then gave the second group 20 minutes of work, a break to browse the web for 10 minutes, then 10 more minutes of work. A break gives you more productivity on tedious tasks like highlighting every letter 'e' in a Word document? Duh! At least it was done in Singapore so we know no U.S. tax dollars were spent on such an obvious conclusion.

    How about people who don't work at all but screw around on the web all day? Giving them the same amount of money for work or no work would answer that question. I know for a fact some people will sit around all day at work commenting on their friends' facebook status, checking twitter, watching Youtube with headphones on, and reading celebrity news. Heck, I've done my fair share of wasting time, too..."Honest boss, I need to check Slashdot all day to...uh...stay current in tech trends!" (to be fair this was back in 2001 when this website was a different place)

  • not that i am complaining, as this is exactly how i use slashdot (he said, posting from work), and i think this is true of most other people here

    slashdot would materially suffer from a workplace that blocked outside surfing

    i would further add that the articles i read on slashdot have benefited me at work, such as with the recent spate of articles covering development on the android: i bring these subjects up in meetings with my coworkers and superiors and employees under me

    the web at work is not about porn or gambling sites. unfortunately, that's the only way some management views the issue. you can walk a middle road: black list sites of only a certain nature. for example: block, don't block

    furthermore, if you do have an employee looking at porn or gambling from work, you are dealing with someone whose comfort level with certain kinds of transgressions at work that they are probably transgressing in other ways at work as well. meaning, blocking their web access is not the way to deal with them, and doesn't solve the problem of the other possible transgressions they are probably engaging in, perhaps against the company. keep an eye at them at least, or better yet, terminate them. anyone surfing porn or gambling from work has issues

  • by inviolet ( 797804 ) <> on Monday August 22, 2011 @12:36PM (#37168500) Journal

    Yeah, we've been over this already. Just because I have 8 hours to spend at the office, doesn't mean I have 8 hours of focus to contribute.

    I have more like 4 or 5 hours of focus, slightly less if I've had to sit in traffic on the way in. The remaining hours are for my inbox, lunch, surfing, defragging VMs, and so on. No matter how many different spins the "corporate efficiency experts" put on it, I only have 4 or 5 hours of focus per day. They should stop worrying what I do with the remaining time, there's nothing valuable there to be had.

    I think the Europeans know this, and so I've come to realize that their 35-hour work week makes sense. I didn't always feel this way. For most of my 20s I railed against it in libertarian rage. Now I see that there is no point in asking humans to sit at the office more than 7 hours a day. It's just a waste of their leisure time, which would be better spent at home.

  • yup

    this seems to be the increasing tenor in this country (or my country, if you are not posting from the usa): classism. class warfare is of course the next step. unfortunate, but people denied equal treatment because of their income have to fight back some way to reaffirm the fairness owed them, the double standards

    the right has even openly embraced classism as the new "morality" for america: "i got mine already, so screw you". "you're poor? sorry, no healthcare or education for you". get your money and screw your fellow americans "i love america! (just not my actual fellow americans, they can rot as far as i care, so yeah, i guess i don't love america, only myself)"

  • by AJH16 ( 940784 ) < minus physicist> on Monday August 22, 2011 @01:06PM (#37168726) Homepage

    The thing about the earlier poster is that he probably is paid to be available. I know currently in my job, there is not a whole lot to be done so I have a lot of free time to kill (believe me I personally would much rather have meaningful work to do or not have to come in. They keep paying me for one simple reason, my services are valuable and they get a good deal on them by keeping me salaried. If I was a consultant, I would cost the company I work for a good 4 times more than I currently do. If they find my services valuable and keep me busy even 1/4 of the time, then they are making out on the deal. In exchange, I don't have to worry about the stress of trying to find work all the time and occasionally may be busy far more than 1/4 of the time. It balances out overall, but the whole idea behind salaried work is that you are paid to retain your skills, not for hours worked.

  • by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <> on Monday August 22, 2011 @01:08PM (#37168742)

    since the business still has its head over the water then maybe it should lay you off to cut costs and bring more value back to the shareholders.

    Fire an executive and hire 100 productive employees for the same price as the single executive. All they do is draw huge paychecks while accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser