Employers typically frown on workers surfing the cyber highway when they should be working, but as long as it's in moderation, they may want to lighten up. A new study shows that browsing the Web from work actually rejuvenates employees and makes them more productive.
Don J. Q. Chen and Vivien K.G. Lim of the National University of Singapore presented the eye-opening findings in their "Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement," according to a report in The Wall Street Journal
. The study went like this:
First, the researchers took 96 undergraduate management students and split them up into three groups, including a control group, a rest-break group, and a group free to surf the Web. For the first 20 minutes, all 96 participants were asked to highlight the letter "e" each time in appeared in a sample text. During the next 10 minutes, the control group was given another easy task, the rest-break group could do anything other than surfing the Web, and the Internet group was instructed to surf the Web. All three groups were given 10 minutes for their assignment, followed by a final 10-minute round of highlighting letters.
Can you guess what happened? Sure you can, because you read the title of this post. But in case you missed your morning coffee, the study showed that Internet users were more productive and performed better than the other two groups. The study's authors say that browsing the Internet played an important role in recharging the workers' batteries, whereas doing things like firing off emails proved distracting. In a second study with 191 adults, the researchers found more of the same.
You shouldn't take this as a free pass to knock around the Web and stay connected to Facebook from 9-5 each day, but it might mean you can guiltlessly hop around the Internet every once in awhile on company time.