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YouTube And Facebook At Workplace Boost Productivity


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Employees who surf the Internet during business hours on a regular basis, actually appear to be more productive than their counterparts who do not, claims a new study by the University of Melbourne.

The study's lead author, Professor Brent Coker, from the University of Melbourne's Department of Management and Marketing, found that people who engage themselves in "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing" (WILB) within a reasonable limit of less than 20 per cent of their work time, are more productive by nearly 9 per cent.

Many companies spend millions of dollars on software to completely ban their workers from watching videos on YouTube, using social networking sites like Facebook or shopping online, motivating that it costs them millions in decreased productivity, Dr. Coker said. However, some companies claim that web browsing is a useful workplace tool for networking and establishing new contacts. Cocker explains it as "zoning out" for some period of time, in order to be able to get back the concentration.

The expert came to this conclusion after observing the habits of 300 employees from different companies. He found that 70 per cent of workers were engaged in WILB - surfing the Internet for personal reasons. And in spite of the common perception that such a behavior is not appreciated by employers and costs them big money, Coker said that these workers were able to focus much better when performing their job duties.

According to the expert, a typical work day involves an overall goal that is divided into a series of smaller tasks. For instance, writing a report may require formatting graphs, editing and so on. By rewarding the fulfillment of these smaller tasks with short and harmless breaks, such as a quick web browsing, the person's concentration can afterwards reset itself. If people are not given an opportunity to take a short break, their concentration eventually slides down, Coker said.

The study found that the most popular surfing activities involved searching for the information about products and looking for the websites containing online news. Playing online games held the position number five, and watching YouTube video clips was ranked number seven.

However, Dr. Cocker cautioned that people should not be encouraged by his findings and start surfing the Internet all day long, and particularly during office hours. He said that, like everything else, WILB should be done in moderation. According to the new research, individuals who surfed the web for a limited period of time, showed more productivity than those who did not, but such productivity increases were not applicable to the addicts of the Web.

Approximately 14 per cent of the subjects in the study showed signs of Internet addiction and, for them, Cocker said, Internet surfing resulted in a loss of productivity. The more they surfed the Web at workplace, the less productive they turned out to be. The reason for this, Dr. Cocker explained, "is because of an 'urge' to search the Internet. "Those that are not addicted, do not have this urge and they surf the Internet as a reward," he concluded.

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