Who hasn’t clicked back to the presentation you should be working feverishly on when your boss approaches in the hopes that he or she didn’t catch you watching the latest new viral menace from Youtube or checking to see who commented on your status on Facebook or even tweeting about the inanity of your job on twitter. At a past job we had rear view mirrors that attached to our screens so we could see who was passing and take evasive action quickly. At one job we even passed around an application that we could simply click and it would look like a generic Windows desktop.
All of these things were done in an effort to keep our bosses from catching surfing the web. At schools millions are spent in a never ending effort to keep kids from Myspace and other sites. However, most of my teenage cousins have told me that they have mastered hacking to get out and check their Myspace activity. While their hacking behavior is questionable and far from being amused and elated that they are actually picking up usable skills, I should have laid done the law. Woefully lenient as disciplinarian, I simply asked them to teach me.
Well much to the chagrin of employers who have spent millions of dollars blocking various social networking sites like twitter and Facebook; it turns out they may have done themselves a disservice. According to a news report from Reuters , a study undertaken by the University of Melbourne has shown that employee’s who surf the net while working are 9 percent more productive than those who keep their nose to the grindstone.
Brent Coker, of the University’s Department of Management and Marketing, has said that browsing the internet as leisure activity or as he termed it “workplace Internet leisure browsing” helped to sharpen workers concentration.
Much like 10 minute work or coffee breaks allow the body to realign and the eyes to rest; Coker added “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 study which included 300 workers found the about 70% engage in some type of leisure surfing activity. The most popular are online games, product research and the favorite of my office, watching and disseminating the latest YouTube offering.
The original thought behind making these sites inaccessible was that companies would lose money because employees were being unproductive. No doubt this was a genius marketing message from one of the companies who sold the software to block these types of sites.
Interestingly, the article did not mention how viewing porn in the workplace may play into this scenario. Obviously for many the line about what is acceptable to view in a workplace setting is a fine one. Porn is still unacceptable but companies have failed miserably in stopping their employees from viewing it. According to the article, “The Pornification of a Culture — What’s Going on in the Office Next Door?” which was posted on www.AlbertMoehler.com, 70% of porn is watched between the hours of 9 am and 5pm. As these are prime working hours, it stands to reason that a great deal of this is going on in offices. The 70% is pervasive across the spectrum.
It does beg the question as whether, porn, like these other forms of leisure surfing activity make the mind more nimble? The answer seems to be an overwhelming no. It would appear that since the viewing of pornography overall is seen as an aberrant or pathological behavior that workplace viewing is seen as symptomatic of a porn addiction. Tess Marshall writes, in her article “Pornography in the Workplace,” “The use of porn at work results in lost time, talent, creativity, productivity, and profitability. An outstanding employee hooked on porn is unable to work at full capacity. Riddled with feelings of shame, guilt, and regret. The results are lost productivity and profitability for the company.”
To paraphrase, addiction is defined as an obsession with the something despite adverse consequences. Obviously, in light of this new study by the University of Melbourne; one can not simply issue a blanket statement that decries the viewing of porn as addictive, nonproductive and damaging. It would seem that a more in depth study that includes viewers of workplace porn may need to be launched to determine the level of use and any detrimental affects that arise as a consequence.
For many of us for which a day without a gander at facebook is unthinkable, the University of Melbourne study is welcome news. However, the deeper consequences, with regard to viewing more objectionable material bears further investigation.
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