Has your boss sent out a memo warning all employees to stop logging into sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on company time? You may want to send a memo straight back to her with some justification for your web browsing time: according to a new study from University of Melbourne, workers who are allowed to spend time each day reading news, blogs, product reviews, catching up with friends on social networks, and taking part in other non-work related online pursuits are actually more productive than those who are blocked from doing so.
“People who do surf the Internet for fun at work—within a reasonable limit of less than 20 percent of their total time in the office—are more productive by about 9 percent than those who don’t,” Dr. Brent Coker said in a statement.
Why the seemingly paradoxical result? According to Dr. Coker, it comes down to our attention spans. “People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” he said. “Think back to when you were in class listening to a lecture—after about twenty minutes your concentration probably went right down, yet after a break your concentration was restored.”
When interspersed with work time, web browsing allows employees to refresh their minds and come back to the task at hand with more focus and care than they would if they were forced to stick to the job all day.
“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,” Dr. Coker added.
While managers can’t be too lenient with workplace leisure time—after all, a four- hour game of Halo won’t do the company any good—allowing workers to refresh their browser windows with their favorite sites will also help refresh their minds. So share this insight with your boss to see if she’ll score you a break—and maybe even become your Facebook friend.
By Kathryn Hawkins for Gimundo, the site for good news, served daily.