Browsing the Web at Work Isn’t So Bad After All

Linda Dulye's picture

When organizations began allowing Internet access for employees it struck fear in the hearts of leaders everywhere. “They’ll surf the Web all day! Nothing will get done!,” they cried. For a time that was probably true.

But research by Don J. Q. Chen and Vivien K. G. Lim of the National University of Singapore indicates that noodling around the Web provides a helpful break for employees and can even enhance their productivity.

As a leader, you want your team fresh and focused but you no doubt understand the need for breaks now and then. We find this research to be of interest because the Internet has simply replaced other perceived time wasters: the water cooler, the telephone, the computer, instant messaging and so on.

In time, each of these became another part of the scenery in the workplace and invaluable to getting work done more efficiently and, in the case of the old water cooler, cultivating critical networks across the office. In our view, Internet is no different than a coffee break or a walk around the building.

If it’s abused, it can negatively impact productivity. But if managed appropriately, giving your team a few minutes to check headlines or box scores can be a simple method for keeping your team on track. What do you think?



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