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What Is Cyberloafing And How To Avoid It?

Have you ever sat in the office at work and just surfed the internet for funny cat videos? Did you play simple browser games or app already installed on the computer? If you’ve ever been the manager at an office full of computers, it’s likely that you and your employees have been guilty of something called ‘Cyberloafing.’

What It Is

Cyberloafing is the act of employees using their organization’s internet access for personal purposes during work hours. It is quite possible that everyone in the office may do it at the same time during the day. Some may decide to sign into YouTube during a lunch break. Others may be putting off finishing that spreadsheet while on the clock.

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Those who work hard every day might say such actions are the result of being a lazy employee. But in a study authored by Shani Pindek, the University of Haifa professor found some interesting results:

“My interest started with the idea of workplace boredom. I study work stress, and while much focus is being put on overload, there are many people who experience their work as boring for various reasons.”

Many people see ‘workplace boredom’ as a negative behavior as deserving of a negative response. Dr. Pindek shared that her thoughts may lie with the job feeling less than ideal:

“The reasons and consequences for this boredom are not well-understood. For example, how bad is it, really, for someone to be bored with their jobs? Are there easy ways to deal with boredom on the job that would negate harmful effects?”

Pindek’s study involved the examination of work from 463 clerical and administrative university employees. A substantial number them were found more likely to ‘cyberloaf’ if there was no work for the majority of their shifts.

“Cyberloafing is a rather natural response to workplace boredom and it is different from other (more harmful) forms of counterproductive work behaviors,”

Pindek shared with Psypost.org. “Cyberloafing happens more when the workload is low and in many cases, it may not be harmful to the work. Just make sure not to overdo it!”

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Dangers of Cyberloafing

While the action itself is mostly harmless, the way employees cyberloaf should be looked at:

“…certain cyberloafing behaviors might pose a cybersecurity threat. Another important note is that spending too much time recreationally on the internet during working hours will undoubtedly end up harming your performance,” Pindek adds.

What to Do About It

Pindek explained that examining the behavior in a lab setting helped her better understand the issue, “Under certain stressful situations, engaging in cyberloafing partially buffered the negative effects of workplace stress.”

Employees are going to cyberloaf if there isn’t much work to do. And they’re twice as likely if they feel their position and job lacks meaning. If you’re an employer who knows they have workers doing this consistently, there are a couple of ways you may be able to deal with the issue.

Offer Incentive Programs

If your company can afford it, company-sponsored training and job enrichment programs may be the key to lighting that employee’s fire. Spending some money will go a long way toward making your company that well-oiled machine you want it to be.

Daily Exercise Sessions

Japanese companies have developed a great way to cope with the stress of the job. The majority of companies like Sony and Toyota offer their employees a non-mandatory daily exercise session.

It’s been scientifically proven that just a few minutes of exercise per day can re-invigorate the muscles and brain, giving employees more ‘thinking power.’
According to Kenichiro Asano, a part of the Fujikura company’s healthcare division, there are more than just health benefits. “Keeping workers in shape is an important corporate strategy. Good health means a sound company.”

They don’t just have them exercise either. Asano shares that employee health is observed by taking daily measurements of steps and fatigue level, while also tracking blood pressure and weight.

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Re-arrange a Couple of Things

Other companies have gone so far as to purchase desks that allow employees to stand or sit during their workday. An engineer for one such company had this to say: “I get tired easily when I’m sitting too long so it’s nice to be able to stand up from time to time.”

Personally, I think a combination of moveable desks and exercise would be an excellent way to take up the time employees don’t spend working. Besides, it’s always more fun to have people to exercise with.

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