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Surfing at work: not so bad actually

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
6 April 2009

Finally! An Australian study has proven what so many have been trying to get away with for years: people who use the internet for personal reasons at work are about 9% more productive that those who do not.
The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the internet at work make better employees and that surfing the internet for fun during office hour’s actually increases productivity.

Dr Brent Coker, author of the study, said "workplace internet leisure browsing", also known as “WILB”, helped to sharpened workers' concentration.

"People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said on the university's website. "Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days' work, and as a result, increased productivity," he said.

Work surf

"Oh, these will look just fab at the next company retreat!"

According to the study of 300 workers, 70% of people who use the internet at work engage in WILB. Among the most popular searches were those for information about products, online news sites, online games and videos on YouTube.

"Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity," said Dr Coker. "That's not always the case."

Ok, Dr Coker did also say the study looked at people who browsed in moderation, or were on the internet for less than 20% of their total time in the office, so if you are spending the whole day on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or Last.fm, you may not be able to use this study to your advantage in your next quarterly review.

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