Before the invention of computers, employees were wasting time doodling pictures, reading magazines or books, taking a quick snooze, or even tuning in to the local radio station. Although they sometimes had to be creative, productivity was affected by distracted workers.
However, no amount of doodling can compare to the amount of productive work time lost to technology. According to the Center for Internet Addiction, employers lose nearly $4 billion dollars each year to internet misuse. Although the internet has greatly improved many industries and workplaces, the constant presence of it can be overwhelming. There is often a blurred line between personal and work use.
For those who spend all of their work day on a computer, the internet is a tempting evil. While the employee may need to spend some time doing research on the internet or even using internet programs, the temptation of having e-mail, chat, Facebook, etc. literally at your fingertips is too strong to resist.
While numbers vary based on the occupation and computer availability, some employees have admitted to spending at least 2-3 hours per day for personal internet use. As an employer, such down time can be damaging to your business. While it is unrealistic to think that your employee won’t ever use technology for personal use during work, it is realistic to set rules in order to protect your productivity.
Below are typical productivity busters and possible rules or solutions:
Often the most distracting buster, it can be professional or personal. Many employees will use a work e-mail to send personal messages. Replying to e-mails can take a great deal of time. Encourage employees to only check their e-mail three times a day (morning, lunch, afternoon). Avoid responding to or initiating personal e-mails.
2) Internet Surfing
Employees use work time to search anything from their next possible vacation to doing their online banking. They may read the news or even watch YouTube videos. If the employee does indeed need a mental moment away from work, checking out a breaking news story may just give them a two-three minute break and motivate them to return to work. However, the problem arises when the employee spends that 3-4 hours wasting time away looking up popular vacation spots.
3) Instant Message/Chat
In that blurred line between personal and work life, an employee may find themselves chatting to friends and family members during the workday. It may be as simple as “hello. I’m at work and bored.” Or, it may be a full out conversation about last night’s date. Either way, instant messaging just shouldn’t happen. Save the personal conversation for after work.
Although it’s been deemed Facebook: number one stalker, number one reason for divorce, number one enemy, etc., it is obvious that Facebook could be considered a number one distraction from school work, personal life, and work. People feel a strong, compelling need to update their status, tell us every little detail of their life, and even let us know when they’re single. Many check their Facebook throughout the day to avoid reading 300 new posts at once after work.
Obviously Facebook/Twitter are powerful Social Media platforms for many businesses to advertise or launch publicity. Therefore, if your job is to maintain a work-related Facebook page, the hours spent on it are actually very productive to the business.
Although we shouldn’t even have to address this, statistics show that 70% of porn traffic occurs during the normal work hours of 9am-5pm. Not only is this offensive to many coworkers, it should also be grounds for termination.
Typically, an employee would waste time playing Solitaire, Hearts, or another preloaded desktop game. However, now, employees can literally find any game online. They can even gamble. While it may be acceptable during a lunch break, gambling your Friday paycheck away should happen after hours.
Unless you install strict monitoring systems, employees are still going to waste valuable work time on the computer. However, if you develop rules limiting what is acceptable and the amount of time allotted for personal computer use, productivity may increase. There is little to no reason for an employee to be gambling, playing games, or instant messaging during work hours. While they may have to check their e-mail or surf the web for research, it should be done as a productivity booster, not buster. Many businesses are monitoring internet use, and misuse may lead to discipline or even termination.
About Sozo Firm
Sozo Firm helps startup companies, small to mid-sized businesses & nonprofit organizations thrive through developing and implementing business optimization strategies. Our efficiency consulting addresses business processes, customer service, employees, marketing, public relations, and communication. Our internet strategy consulting addresses website usability, reputation management, social media, and internet marketing. Contact our senior consultant, Andrew Jensen, at 800.460.SOZO to learn how we can serve you.