‘Pleasurable’ browsing breaks rejuvenate workers, but emailing causes harm, says new NUS research
A new research has found that allowing workers to browse the Internet could increase their productivity.
The study, "Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement," by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim of the National University of Singapore (NUS) compared Web browsing at workplace to other activities that employees usually indulge in such as making personal calls, texting or checking emails. The study also found that Web surfers were better at work than those who did not take a break at all.
The Wall Street Journal reported that undergraduate management students, who took part in the study, were divided into three groups: a control group, a "rest-break" group and a Web-surfing group.
The study found significant improvement in productivity and effectiveness of work among the Web-surfers.
They also displayed lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom and higher levels of engagement, said the report.
The authors of the study said that browsing the Internet serves an important "restorative function."
However the researchers also said that personal emailing distracts workers.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Dr. Lim saying that workers "usually choose to visit only the sites that they like — it’s like going for a coffee or snack break. Breaks of such nature are pleasurable, rejuvenating the Web surfer."
But emailing is "cognitively more demanding, relative to Web surfing, as you need to pay attention to what is said on the email," she added.
The authors said that employees should be allowed time for limited personal Web browsing "since it has a salubrious impact on employees’ productivity," while access to personal emails must be controlled.
Last month, a survey by YouGov had suggested something similar.
It found that Small and Mid-sized Businesses (SMBs) in Europe are witnessing productivity leaps of over 30% after integrating the use of employees’ personal communications devices into their businesses.
The survey by YouGov for virtual computing service provider Citrix Online found that consumerisation — a term used for allowing employees to use their personal devices such as iPads, iPhones and other Android-based gadgets — improves productivity for over 10% SMBs.
The consumerisation of IT has been rising up to corporate agenda recently, driven by increasing use of smartphones and tablet devices such as Apple’s iPads and iPhone or Google’s Android-based handsets.
The study found that 21% of UK businesses are under more pressure to introduce or increase mobile/flexible working practices compared to five years ago, with only 2% under less pressure.
Though a significant shift, this is much lower than the European average of 36%, said YouGov.
Citrix Online EMEA marketing senior director Andrew Millard said, "As the boundaries between office hours and personal time become less distinct, managers are losing control of how people ‘work’, as individuals want to prioritise what they do."
"It is no surprise therefore that there is so much resistance to workshifting, as managers have to move to evaluating performance on results over time rather than on the basis of physically seeing them working at their desks."
Milard also added that consumerisation allowed employees to prioritise their work effectively.
"The good news is that these devices enable employees to take charge of their time, by self-prioritising in an effective and controlled way," Milard said.