CyberLoaf, CyberSlack, GoldBrick… Workplace Realities: The Impact of Personal Internet Usage at Work…

Cyberloafing is No.1 reported way employees waste time, according to a survey of 10,000 employees, and 44.7% cited cyberloafing as their No.1 distraction at work… So, if you’re reading this at work you are cyberloafing, as it’s the term for employees who surf the Internet when they should be working.

It’s not an especially new word (it dates from the end of the heyday of the ‘cyber-word-creation’ boom, with first example being in Toni Kamins’ article ‘Cyberloafing: Does Employee Time Online Add Up to Net Losses?’ But, it became more newsworthy with an article by Vivien K G Lim when she surveyed a selection of self-identified cyberloafers and found; employees often did so, not out of boredom or laziness but, as an act of defiance against what they saw as unjust actions by employers, so it was a conscious attempt to balance the ledger… but other experts differ on employees primary motivation…

cyber thKXMBUFZW

Cyberloafing is a slang term used to describe employees who surf the Internet, write e-mail or other Internet-related activities at work that are not related to their job. These activities are performed while employees are being paid by their employer. The individual is called cyberloaf(er) and the act is cyberloafing. Other associated terms are; cyberslacking, goldbricking…

According to Webopedia; the term is a slang word to describe employees who spend their working hours engaged in online activities that don’t have anything to do with work… According to study by Kansas State University; between 60 and 80% of people cyberloaf… According to Mark Gimen; cyberloafing costs U.S. employers $1 billion per year in computer resources, while other estimate the cost to U.S. economy could be as high as 63 billion dollars per year… Also, cyberloafers may– unwittingly or otherwise– visit websites which can expose organization to legal liabilities, and dangers posed by computer viruses...

According to research, the most common forms of cyberloafing are; checking personal email, social media, playing games, watching videos, shopping, managing finances, job searching… A recent Modis survey; found that 30% of IT professionals admit their departments monitor employees who might be violating content policies. And, 48% of admit their company does some sort of banning, blocking or throttling of non-work Web content… According to  Dave Lavinsky; workers are going to goof off sometimes, but for the most part, they’re going to be focused on work related activities… But, when companies choose to play ‘big brother’ and heavily monitor computer use, they’re not going to have happy employees…

According to one report; email is a ‘gateway distraction’ to different cyberloafing activities because it opens up numerous other ways to get sidetracked from work tasks and enticed in other Internet activities… According to  Financial Times article; businesses are losing thousands of dollars per year for each employee that cyberloafs, which equates to a multimillion dollar problem (one number put out there is at about $650 million).

As a result of people getting distracted with online entertainment and personal business, reportedly– productivity has decreased, which ultimately has a negative impact on profitability. This leads to some business blocking certain websites or monitoring employee Internet use, which can lead to staff morale problems and other ethical issues in an organization…

cyber5 images

So, what should employers consider when developing an Internet policy? According to Chen; managers must recognize that blanket policies that prohibit all forms of personal Internet usage are not effective and excessive monitoring is likely to lead to employees’ retaliation, and stifle legitimate Internet use… Instead, managers and companies should work toward implementing acceptable Internet use policy, which aims to work out a reasonable balance between some personal Web usage and work…

Remember that even if you attempt to control what websites employees visit on work computers, the vast majority of workers bring either; their personal smartphones or tablets with them to work each day, and you’ll never be able to control their activities on their own personal devices. The only real solution to cyberloafing is to find effective ways to motivate employees to be more productive during the workday…

In the article Dealing with Personal Internet Use at Work by edward writes:  With all the advantages of the Internet in the workplace it also has some challenges… One of the greatest is the temptation to use Internet for personal reasons during the course of a workday. Even the most loyal, hard-working employee can be tempted to occasionally, e.g.; do a little online shopping, play games, watch videos, check local news or weather reports, or communicate with family and friends using social media… In a survey, here are some more eye-popping statistics to consider:

  • 77% of people check their Facebook account on work computers.
  • 20% of men admit to viewing pornography at work.
  • 4% of men spend 1-2 hours per day gambling at work.
  • 56% of people spend 30 minutes each day researching office betting pools.
  • Employers lose $6.5 billion due to fantasy football.
  • 77% of brides admit to using work hours to plan their wedding.
  • 49% of people shop online while at work during the holiday season.

In the article Does Cyberloafing Have Negative, Positive Impact on Productivity? by Leigh Goess writes: Employees that cyberloaf are involved with a number of different activities which fall into two general categories: entertainment and personal business… In entertainment; people tend to spend time on social media websites, playing online games, video watching, streaming and viewing live events and using instant messaging applications to chat with family and friends…

In personal business; people tend to engage in online shopping, banking, job searches, emails…. But are workers really slackers? The term ‘cyberloafing’ has been said to have been derived from the term ‘goldbricking’ which is basically another work for slacker, or something that appears to possess value, but in reality is worthless…

According to Laura Vanderkam; everyone needs a break, and taking a breather and engaging in another activity to relieve stress can lead to happier employees, which generally leads to higher productivity… Whether or not cyberloafing is serious problem, most likely depends on employee’s specific behaviors in any given organization. In some companies it may be a serious problem, but in others maybe not be as much... What it boils down to is ‘balance’– employees that do not waste hours on cyberloaf activities are likely to find their employers more willing to accept the use of limited non-work related Internet activity, e.g.; during lunch hours, breaks, off hours… the key for both employer and employee is balance and flexibility…

cyber6 images

In the article Cyber Loafing Drains Productivity by Peter Strozniak writes: Research finds it takes more than a policy to stop employees from cyberloafing– wasting work time on the Web… Between 60% and 80% of people’s time on the Internet at work has nothing to do with work, which means cyberloafing drains productivity. More important, it could put companies in legal trouble when employees conduct illegal activity or unacceptable behavior like viewing pornography on workplace computers.

According to John Urgin and John Pearson; after surveying office workers and university students, the researchers discovered both older and young workers waste time on the Internet but in different ways, for example; older people are doing things like; managing their finances… while young people found it more acceptable to spend time on social networking sites like; Facebook…

Although threats of termination and detection mechanisms are effective deterrents against cyberloafing, they may not be enough… the researchers found that for young people, it was hard to get them to think that social networking was unacceptable behavior… Just having a policy in place did not change their attitudes or behavior at all. Even when they knew that they were being monitored, they still did not care… companies need to be careful when taking invasive actions, people will feel as if ‘big brother’ is watching them and that becomes counter-productive…

It’s hard to fully focus on work when personal issues become a distraction, and when they can be addressed via the Internet so easily… Management experts have estimated that only about 67% of employee’s workday is actually productive (without factoring in personal use of the Internet)... But with the advent of online– music download, shopping, auction sites, fantasy sports… that percentage is quickly and radically reduced.. According to Parry Aftab; some employers have opted for software to monitor employees’ surfing activities and in some cases restrict their online activities… But most have adopted more acceptable-use policies…

According to Will Sturgeon; businesses are losing thousands of hours of productivity each year– workers are being distracted by the endless hours they spend online with– email, Internet, IM… which are often cited as being the biggest factor in office productivity. But some believe that it’s just simply symptomatic of a more serious issue… Whereas, cyberloafing was identified by 23% as main obstacle to a productive workforce; low staff morale and lack of motivation was identified by 32%– suggesting that management must do a better job at managing workers…

According to Gartner Research; about 5% of enterprise workers are engaging in inappropriate online behavior at the office, ranging from simple ‘cyberloafing’ to using company Internet access to hold down a second job… According to a survey by Websense; average employee spent about 24% of his/her working hours on cyberloafing activities… According to a study; one-fifth of all people who visited ‘pornographic websites’ have done it from work… One-third of workers surveyed by the Society of Financial Service Professionals reported; ‘playing computer games’ while at work… A survey by ‘Privacy Foundation’ found; eighty-three percent of companies indicated that employees were using e-mail for personal purposes…

The cyberloafing trend has created a new industry in the form of software that monitors and controls Internet activity, as well as; smartphone blocking technologies… But even when the Internet is blocked at workplaces; the cyberloafing problem is still there, since workers would respond by getting their cyberloafing fix by using instead, their own smartphones, tablets…  According to Tom Peters; Just ignore it and move on! But a more honest view, simply tweeted: Too late… #genie/bottle/out.