Workers who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are more productive, according to a study by researchers at the University of Melbourne. “People who do surf the Internet for fun at work - within a reasonable limit o

f less than 20% of their total time in the office - are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t,” said Dr. Brent Coker of the university’s Management and Marketing department.

‘Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing’ (WILB) aids production by improving worker concentration.

“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” said Coker.

The way the work day is broken up, as Coker described it, is as a series of tasks broken into smaller ones. With no break between mini-tasks, concentration slides down.

Rewarding oneself for the completion of mini-tasks with “short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity,” the researcher said.

Coker noted that while Internet breaks are great for the workplace, there is the possibility that it can cause decreased productivity in Internet addicts.

“They don’t take breaks at appropriate times, they spend more than a ‘normal’ amount of time online, and can get irritable if they are interrupted while surfing,” Coker said. “WILB is not as helpful for this group of people - those who behave with internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without.”

Still, the study’s conclusion that spending up to one-fifth of your time at work goofing off makes you a better employee could help us better manage our professional lives. This is something that employers are behooved to take into consideration.

By Mark Alvarez