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Sneaky Surfing Actually Increases Productivity

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 8:24 AM on April 3, 2009

I am fortunate to work in an environment where we are not really prohibited from surfing the Internet for personal reasons. We spend time on Facebook, reading the local news, searching for product information or buying items online, or emailing friends and relatives. In general, as long as you are getting your job done and meeting deadlines, then your personal surfing is allowed. For me, this creates a relaxed and positive environment to work in; most of us aren’t just “workerbees,” we have plenty of life outside the office, and most of the time you can’t completely separate those two things.

A new small study out of Australia has come forth to reinforce an earlier study done in the states that indicate that personal surfing actually increased productivity by about 9%. The indication was for those that surfed 20% or less of their at-work time. 20% is quite a bit, in my mind, but that’s probably about how much time I spend doing personal stuff at work. That 9% figure is pretty astonishing; I have never missed a deadline and often work on complex projects that have a lot of pieces to keep up with, and a lot of people to keep focused on the goal. Yet, I do surf non-work-related sites on a regular basis.

The presumption, from both studies, is that those short surf-breaks allow the mind to re-gather its resources and enhance concentration for continued productivity. That makes sense, but I believe there is an old adage at work: if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Busy people manage to do everything that is required, plus some, but also don’t give up their own selfish pleasures while they are doing it. I am often told I’m one of those people, as I accomplish considerable tasks and meet many goals, yet I still indulge my own guilty pleasures along the way, because life is too short to do otherwise.

Now, if we can just convince companies to stop spending their profits on unnecessary blocking software, that could be a good thing. It is obviously a good thing to surf a little on company time.

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