We all know that employees at work should be working. But according to a new study, those who spend a bit of time at the office goofing around online are actually more productive than their colleagues.
According to researchers quoted in a CNET news article, the phenomenon is caused by fatigue:
“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration. Think back to when you were in class listening to a lecture—after about 20 minutes your concentration probably went right down, yet after a break your concentration was restored.”
A short break, such as surfing the Internet, “enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day’s work, and as a result, increased productivity.”
But how much productivity is gained? If workers limit themselves to leisure web surfing for no more than 20% of their total time at work, they are 9% more effective than those who avoid personal web use altogether. These numbers may sound a little confusing, so the claim should be restated. People who merely occasionally browse the Internet actually get more done then colleagues who never go online.
Of course, taking frequent breaks while working is nothing new. For as long as people have been working, they have been stepping out for a meal, a cigarette, or just to stretch. Even a few minutes away from a complex or arduous task can help us feel refreshed. However, spending one-fifth of our working hours doodling around online might sound excessive to the typical manager. That is writing off an entire day out of every week. How could losing so much time actually save time overall?
The answer lies in the connection between satisfaction and productivity. When employers monitor Internet usage and dictate that their workers never go online for personal reasons, they are effectively telling employees they cannot be trusted. Telling anyone what they can and cannot do is a recipe for frustration.
As The Methodology Blog has reviewed before, people love the concept of being done with a project. Employees despise work environments where they are not valued. They will even adore a dirty job if the work is satisfying and productive.
Here’s the secret: No organization should expect success by controlling employees, but rather, by embracing individual creativity to improve workflow and achieve great results for customers. If you are ready to think beyond monitoring your workers by empowering them to do more for your business, reach out to the business improvement experts at AccelaWork. We are ready to work with you and your stakeholders to get more done.