Do you take regular moments at work to browse the internet, check your Facebook page or catch up on the latest news? If so, don’t feel guilty as such activity helps boost your efficiency and work rate. The Wall Street Journal has reported that a new study, entitled ‘Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement,’ shows that web browsing can help refresh workers and improve their productivity. The researchers conducted two studies. In the first, they put 96 undergraduate management students into three different groups, the first was a work group, the second was a ‘rest-break’ group and the third was a web surfing group.
The first task had all subjects spending 20 minutes highlighting as many letter e’s as they could find in a sample text. The next ten minutes had the three groups using their time differently; the work group were given another simple task to complete, the rest break group could do whatever they wanted, except surf the internet and the third group could browse the web. Afterwards, all of the subjects spent another ten minutes highlighting more letters.
It turned out that the web-surfers were significantly more productive and effective at the tasks than the other two groups. They also reported lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom and higher levels of engagement. The second study, which surveyed 191 adults, found similar results. The researchers proposed that browsing is related to productivity as they choose to visit only the sites that they like. This makes their breaks more pleasurable for them and rejuvenates the user in comparison to answering emails which is demanding as workers cannot control what emails they receive. Also replying to emails is more demanding mentally as it requires you to pay attention to what’s being said on the email.
The study recommends that employers don’t over-restrict worker’s web access and to allow time for limited personal web browsing to help boost productivity.