Report: Goofing Off Online Increases Workplace Productivity

Brad Chacos

Screwing around on the Internet is the new Solitaire; it’s what you do at the office when the boss isn’t hovering over your shoulder.  But is all the secrecy really necessary? A new study doesn’t seem to think so. In fact, the researchers behind the report say that blowing off some steam on Facebook or YouTube makes workers more productive than any other type of break.

"Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement" – that’s right, “Cyberloafing;” we love it, too – by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim of the National University of Singapore outlines the test conducted by the researchers. In two separate tests, consisting of roughly 300 people, Chen and Lim separated the human guinea pigs into three groups. All of them spent 20 minutes highlighting every letter “e” in a long document. The first group was then given a second easy task; the second group could take a 10-minute break and do absolutely anything they wanted to, except surf the Internet; and the third group got 10 minutes of unrestricted Interwebs play time, the Wall Street Journal reports .

After the 10 minute break, all three groups continued highlighting those elusive document letters.  Web surfers fared far and away the best during the second go-‘round; in contrast, the researchers found that people who spent the time in their email inbox did poorly. Why the difference? Lim told the WSJ that web surfers “usually choose to visit only the sites that they like—it's like going for a coffee or snack break. Breaks of such nature are pleasurable, rejuvenating the Web surfer.” On the other hand, you need to focus more attention on the contents of an email, which keeps those neurons firing when they should be cooling down.

So there you have it – screwing around on Facebook boosts your productivity. Feel free to forward this article to your boss next time he catches you checking out LOLcats on company time.


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