Cyberloafing could get you fired

Your colleague in the next cubicle is out for a late lunch and the boss won’t be returning from her meeting for another hour. Lunch over and done with, you are feeling the afternoon slump and won’t be productive till the coffee arrives. No harm in doing some online shopping while no one is looking, right? Or watching the music video for Sia’s Elastic Heart.

Most definitely not, says an apocalyptic new study.

Professor Matthew McCarter from The University of Texas at San Antonio says this harmless sounding habit could be costing companies big money. The anal retentive bunch of researchers have even figured out exactly how much time “cyberloafing” takes up for the average office executive.

They discovered that 14% of your office hours are sheared off. Every time you are distracted by the internet. It takes about 23 minutes to return to the work task you were engaged in.

Using the internet for personal reasons during work hours is openly shunned and privately practiced in most offices around the world, country and race no bar. However, alarm bells are being raised and management is already taking notice of this productivity leak in multiple firms.

While some have banned social networking and shopping sites, others are monitoring the output of employees by the hour. The handy (and seemingly indispensable) smartphone comes to the rescue of workers in such scenarios. You can’t ban phones, after all… or can you? Some offices have (an established daily newspaper in Mumbai and a technology company in Bangalore have done so citing security as a concern).


For those who are free of such restrictions, how does one beat lethargy and resist the temptation of clicking on Bored Panda? Experts suggest taking short water breaks every hour and keeping the eye on the prize – performance appraisal.

by Kasmin Fernandes

(A version of this post was published on

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