Friday, April 03, 2009

Freedom to surf: workers more productive if allowed to use the internet for leisure

A new study from the University of Melbourne shows that workers who spend less than 20 percent of their office time to take "short and unobtrusive breaks" to surf personal, less productive sites were 9 percent more productive than those who tried to tirelessly keep their nose to the grindstone. We've long been keen on buckling down for a productive dash, followed by a little break, so an 80/20 split seems pretty reasonable. Maybe the best part of this study, though, is the coining of the acronym WILB, for "Workplace internet leisure browsing."

And it looks like they are doing it:
"According to the study of 300 workers, 70% of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB. Among the most popular WILB activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites. Playing online games was the fifth most popular, while watching YouTube movies was seventh.
Anecdotally, at my former place of employment - an internet dot com - we actually wrote into the policy manual that employees were required to browse the web at least an hour a day. The logic? If you are a web-based enterprise how are you going to keep pace with innovation if someone isn't looking out for it. We also didn't want employees to feel guilty about or hide their exploration and they were invited to share their discoveries with co-workers.

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