Workers Allowed Recreational Use of the Internet are More Productive

Freedom to surf: workers more productive if allowed to use the internet for leisure

“People who do surf the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t,”

According to the study of 300 workers, 70% of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB. Among the most popular Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB) activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites. Playing online games was the fifth most popular, while watching YouTube movies was seventh.

The attraction of WILB, according to Dr Coker, can be attributed to people’s imperfect concentration. “People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration.”

I wouldn’t take 1 study of 300 workers as the final word on the topic but I believe as a general principle it is a good idea to allow recreational internet use when appropriate, as I wrote in 2006. Such access does create the possibility for abuse but managing that risk is better than policies that are far too restrictive.

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2 thoughts on “Workers Allowed Recreational Use of the Internet are More Productive

  1. John,

    I’d go one step further: this is in keeping with respect for people. If we can’t trust people to manage their internet use, can we really trust them to properly fabricate a silicon chip or install bolts in a jet engine? Respect people, allow them to take breaks when necessary, and trust in their judgment.


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