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The Internet Businesses

Websurfing Damaging U.S. Productivity? 381

Bert writes "Ars Technica does a good job of debunking a study that claims that American business lose $178 billion a year to web surfing in the workplace. Particularly alarming is the fact that the study used the beliefs of 350 IT managers to determine how many hours a week the average employee wastes online. Like the article asks: where's the calculation of how much time we all spend answer work e-mail at home?"
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Websurfing Damaging U.S. Productivity?

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  • by skurk ( 78980 ) * on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:10AM (#13122840) Homepage Journal
    I mean, hey - look at me, I'm at work right now, reading and posting on slashdot.
    I even spent a few minutes reloading the front page so I could go for first post.

    But *Ahem* Seriously though, I love my job and only surf in between tasks.
    (-: (siht sdaer ssob ym esac ni tsuJ)
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:26AM (#13122955)
      I even spent a few minutes reloading the front page so I could go for first post.

      The star sign next to your Slashdot ID says that you even spent a few *dollars* so you could get first post.

      I congratulate you Sir for being a very conscientious employee: you knew you'd have to spent incredible amounts of time reloading the /. front page over and over to have a chance to get first post as a non-subscriber, but instead you decided to become a /. subscriber to be able to RTFA and post ahead of time, thereby saving time and company money!
    • I know that thanks to people surfing the web at the office, it's a lot more quiet than it used to be and people smoke less.

      These are also advantages that employers should understand. My productivity gets better when my office is quiet, I am to low level to get my own office so lets keep people shut up! If someone is gonna slack for the sake of slacking, internet makes no difference, the slackers used to fuck around with printers and copiers or yap about their kids etc... Those of us who do get things done
    • In Other News... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Linurati ( 670073 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:58AM (#13123194) Homepage

      Employers cost employees billions annually in clothing and shoe sales to conform with arbitrary company dress-code policies. Film at eleven.

      Seriously, though. How much car maintenance, clothing shopping, gasoline and other work-related expenses do you pay out of your paycheck with zero-reimbursement for your employer?

      • by dusik ( 239139 )
        Yeah, it pisses me off that I spend $4/day in gas just to go to work! Never mind the miles I'm putting on my car. It only makes sense to recoup the time=money on /. :)

        *flips to next excuse...*
    • How many of the people posting in this very thread are AT WORK right now, and wasting time that should be dedicated to actual work?

      And no, I won;t call anyone on it. Pot, Kettle anyone?

      Debunking the study. Sheesh. What are they going to do next? After arguing that web surfing isn't wasting vast amounts of US productivity, are they going to argue that the sky isn't blue?

      "No, really, it's pink, all the time. Those clouds aren't really there!"

      To quote a children's movie, "Who are you gonna believe, me
  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:12AM (#13122853)
    > where's the calculation of how much time we all spend answer work e-mail at
    > home?" Why would I want to answer work email at home. I don't, nor do I answer phone calls from work on my mobile when I've left work. If they want to arrange paying me to do either, that's fine, but they haven't. I'm suprised this is even an issue.
    • Slashdot's Stats (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GuitarNeophyte ( 636993 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:22AM (#13122922) Homepage Journal
      Just looking at my website statistics from people coming to my website [] via, I actually have a large number at the beginning of the workday, and towards the end, but during the day, it looks like most people stay pretty productive...

      Or just that they do their slashdotting in the morning and other non-productive surfing later :-)

      If you also have a website that's geared for computer newbies [], get a hold of me. Maybe we can partner up or something.
      • ust looking at my website statistics from people coming to my website [] via, I actually have a large number at the beginning of the workday, and towards the end,

        They come once in the morning and once the evening for a quick prayer because they feel guilty for browsing Slashdot on the job perhaps?
      • christiannerds hey?
        To me that's almost as revolting as goatse...
    • by wdmr ( 884924 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:39AM (#13123059)

      I think you have a reasonable outlook but not everyone is fortunate enough to work at a place that allows you to escape. And, the problem is that "IT Decision Makers" routinely expect well in excess of 40 hours per week from their employees. My current position is with a company that has a good work-life balance but when I was working in major corporate IT divisions I was *expected* to work more than 40 "if needed". And since we tended to get projects assigned with unrealistic deadlines, "if needed" meant "damn near always".

      So if I am expected to put in extra effort and extra hours it is up to *me* to determine whether I want to do a couple surfing runs each day so long as I'm not doing things that put the company at risk (surfing porn, emailing competitors, etc). As long as I meet deadlines and my productivity is good, it's none of their business how I divvy up my time. And this doesn't even touch the fact that it is almost impossible for a senior IT worker to get a real "day off" anymore.

      That being said, there is a serious problem with a minority of people who do things like daytrading, fantasy sports, shopping, etc all day long while doing the absolute minimum to avoid losing their jobs. But that is a management problem not a technology problem and it is wrong and short-sighted to punish 95% of your employees because mid-managers are too lazy (or too busy daytrading and playing fantasy football) to stay engaged in their employee's tasks and responsibilities.

      I wish there were some surveys to compare the relative productivity of companies with liberal internet policies to those with a "total lockdown" mentality. My suspicion is that good management + a liberal policy would result in greater productivity (from improved morale) than an IT policy that treats the employees like untrustworthly spoiled children.

    • Actually, I've been reading work-related and personal email for two hours this morning. I'm still in my underwear at home and won't go into work for another two hours. Of course, I'm my own boss and there's little line for me. But when I had a corporate job, it was mostly hurry up and wait. It was second shift, and I checked my email from home every day, often hours and hours before and after I was in the office. But when I was in the office, I'd sometimes have five hours of down time a day. Surfed a lot,
    • You and I are in a minority here. I even leave my company mobile at work when I leave. AFAIK I'm the only one in my company doing that.

      For most people, however, the lines between work and private life have started to blur. Mail from both worlds is mixing, as are phone calls. On-call duty is expanding constantly, and even people not explicitly on duty are often called on their private mobiles to answer work questions.
    • Uh...quite a bit. Well, not recently. But back when I was working on a lot of high-profile, high stress projects it was not uncommon to get emails from managers at 2:00 in the morning. I would often check my work email at least once in the evening just to help keep my head above water for the next morning. Since we were virtually expected to be working 24/7 anyway, it didn't really matter when and where I checked my office email.

      The only time I was really annoyed by this was when I got a call one Satur

  • I'm on break (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:12AM (#13122856)

    I'm reading this during my lunch break, at which time reasonable personal use of the Internet is explicitly allowed by our local management.

    I wonder if I count as "lost productivitiy"?

  • by jmcmunn ( 307798 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:14AM (#13122870)

    As a programmer, I have to say that my frequent visits to coding sites (ie codeproject) have often increased my productivity as I tend to find bits of code that can be used in whatever I am working on, or at least inspire me to do something similar.

    Without the web, and the resources it provides for helping solve problems, I would waste much more time when I get stumped on the job.
    • This was one of my immediate reactions, too. If you look at the web sites I visit during work hours -- during long breaks or otherwise -- the vast majority are technical. I've picked up plenty of useful information about the software tools we use (or have since started using), coding techniques, and any number of other things that have increased the ability of myself and/or my colleagues to do the job we're paid for.

      I do check my personal web mail maybe every hour or so, which takes all of about five seco

    • So very true. These studies ignore the fact that the web is out information source for solving problems.

      Surfing the web is ~not~ always wasted time.

    • frequent visits to coding sites (ie codeproject) have often increased my productivity... Without the web, and the resources it provides... I would waste much more time when I get stumped...

      No doubt. Alas, the term "leverage" has past its expiration date among the likely business types who could have recognized that this is a good example of what they supposedly meant by it. (They're off thinking inside the outside-the-box jargon box now.)

      Web access is good for the company and the employee, both -

  • by coinreturn ( 617535 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:15AM (#13122871)
    Particularly alarming is the fact that the study used the beliefs of 350 IT managers to determine how many hours a week the average employee wastes online.

    Since the IT guys are the ones you can never find at work and never respond to pagers, how did they even ask them? How about, How much productivity is lost trying to find the IT guy?
    • Maybe because they're busy surfing the web and answering online surveys about workplace productivity?
    • Or a better question, how much IT productivity is lost trying to find the user who had the problem in the first place. I've had a job sitting in my queue for three weeks now because I can't get the user to take half an hour to actually work out if they got what they wanted. I'd close it out, but I have to give it to another user and they won't tell me which one.
    • by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:42AM (#13123081)
      How about, How much productivity is lost trying to find the IT guy?

      Or gained. If you could find us, you'd only be asking silly questions anyways. Now leave me alone. I have a server that needs cooling. It's very important.
  • Of course.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wpiman ( 739077 ) * on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:15AM (#13122873)
    Ars Technica is going to attempt to debunk that fact that web surfing hurts productivity. A good portion of their readership, hence ad revenues, comes from people who are surfing at work.

    Good business sense, don't talk your business model down.

  • by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:15AM (#13122874)
    > where's the calculation of how much time we all spend
    > answer work e-mail at home?

    Err probably zero.

    How many companies...
    1. Bother to set up their email systems so that the employees can use it from home.
    2. Then train their employees on how to set it up on their home machine or use the webmail.
    3. Have employees which actually DO check their mail from home AND reply even when someone's set it all up for them?

    I'm guessing a single digit percentage at most.

    On the other hand, how many employees surf the web for non work purposes while at work? Probably the vast majority.
    • I'm guessing a single digit percentage at most.

      Then I must be an outlier -- I've never once worked at a tech company without a VPN and an intranet accessible by SSL. My guess would, thus, be dramatically different from yours.

      Perhaps it would be better if someone actually collected some data?
      • I've never once worked at a tech company without a VPN and an intranet accessible by SSL.

        Agreed... I work at a decidedly low-tech company, and we even have a VPN/web-enabled mail server setup. If I were a betting man, I'd say more people have access to this sort of "service" from their workplace than realize it--after all, if you don't seek it out you probably won't know about it.
    • I'm guessing a single digit percentage at most.

      That is a very interesting question. My company (a consulting firm) actually encourages us to work from home, in order to reduce the amount of money they spend on building rental, heating, maintenance, etc. Most of my clients do NOT encourage remote access. It usually requires an act of Congress to gain remote access to my various clients.

  • BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazyTalk ( 662055 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:16AM (#13122875)
    Old timer chiming in here - I was working in the days before the internet (or more correctly the world wide web and the common availability of email). You know what? We found time to goof off then too. I think there is a certain amount of time a person is likely to do actual work during the day and a certain amount of time they need to/will goof off - it's just the method of goofing off has changed. Now we surf the web and exchange emails. In the 1980s and earlier people would take coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, read magazines or newspapers, talk to their families and friends on the phone, talk to their cube neighbors, etc. People need that time during the day to decompress, and maybe even have their subconscious work on a problem for awhile after they have been intensly focused on it. Time spent not working hasnt changed - its just spent differently.
    • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wansu ( 846 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:29AM (#13122975)

      it's just the method of goofing off has changed

      Some people still goof off the old fashioned way. One of my coworkers seems to be on the phone constantly. I see people reading magazines. There's a guy with a guitar in his office. People zone out and listen to iPods. I knocked on one guy's door, got no answer and found him asleep on the floor.

      There was one guy who camped out in the handicapped stall in the restroom and read the EE Times and the newspaper. Our boss used to take notice of what kind of shoes this guy wore because he might have to go looking at feet in the stalls to find him. Another old redneck technician said, "He's gon' git th' hem-a-roids frum settin' in'are sa'long."

    • by Peyna ( 14792 )
      The guy in the cube next to me takes at least 1 smokebreak every hour; so I take one "non-smokebreak" every hour and screw off at my desk. If they're going to pay him to increase the companies health costs, they might as well pay me to go on Slashdot and complain about it.
    • by dema ( 103780 )
      . People need that time during the day to decompress, and maybe even have their subconscious work on a problem for awhile after they have been intensly focused on it.

      Amen to that. I can't count the number of times I've been so deeply involved in a problem that the most obvious answer was miles away, and the second I step away from the problem and clear my head the answer comes to me. Without some time to unwind and relax a little I would never get a damn thing worth mention done. I think this type of t
    • I actually do less goofing off than I did in the "good old days". When I vanished into the break room, that was 15-30 minutes that I wasn't doing anything. When I'm surfing sites, I can be ready to work in seconds if neccesary.
    • I totally agree with you. People are going to take breaks no matter what.

      What is scary though is that web usage can be monitored. In contrast, coffee breaks and quickies in an empty conference room can't.

      In my shop, the firewall reports are in real time.

      Pretty scary when one's boss sends an Email with better links related to something one searched for earlier in the day.

      One afternoon after shopping at think geek, a couple of years ago, my manager came by to chat and finished up by saying 'got root?'. Wh

  • where's the calculation of how much time we all spend answer work e-mail at home?

    In my case, thirty minutes per year (average).
  • I NEED to surf (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theantipop ( 803016 )
    As a distracted youth entering the workplace, I venture to say that I need to surf a bit during the day. I'm not the most focused person, but if I were to develop for 8 hours straight a day, I would certainly lose my mind at a very rapid rate.
    • We are not robots. We would go insane if we worked straight all day with no break, all week long.
      • Speak for yourself.

        I can stare at arcane newspapers searching for secret encrypted messages and look at me! I'm perfectly sane.

        Now i just need to find my roommate, he doesn't seem to be around just right now...
  • Mandatory overtime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EWIPlayer ( 881908 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:17AM (#13122887)

    I've said this before... when companies mandate unpaid overtime (and i know there are a lot of you out there that are affected by this in one way or another), what do companies expect?

    Companies show time and time again that what they care about is "who's at the office?". Not "How smart do they work?" or "How much do they get done?" but simply whether the parking lot is full after 5pm.

    Goofing off during those mandatory "overtime" hours is not only a healthy "fuck you" to the establishment but also the only way to slow the burnout rate.

    Ah, but what's the burnout of one more "resource" (a wonderful term that is about as slimy as "It's not personal, it's just business") when compared with a better bottom line?

  • by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:19AM (#13122907)
    $178 billion a year to web surfing in the workplace

    So, basically what they're saying is that if everyone stopped web-surfing at work, then we'd have enough money to build a space elevator and kick-start a Mars colony. Somehow, those numbers seem a little high to me. But, even if it were true, all the extra cash would most likely go into a bunch of a-holes pockets who would then use it buy another Mercedes or two. So, what was the point of this research again?
    • Hey, if someone was willing to use the 'gained' money to actually BUILD a space elevator, I'd be the first person to volunteer to work enough extra hours to ensure that I spend the alloted amount of time each day being 100% productive...

      Since no one seems to be volunteering to build it, I guess I'll just have to work in a way that retains my sanity.
  • Who's guilty here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:20AM (#13122919)
    Quote from TFA:

    "IT decision-makers polled believe that employees are spending an average of 5.9 hours per week surfing the internet for non work-related reasons."

    IT decision-makers believe this number because:

    - they watch the http traffic on their networks (hint: "decision-makers" usually don't know much about technical issues)

    - it's based on their personal experience (hint: decision-makers are usually suits with personal offices)

    Which one is it in your opinion?

    What's more of course, since the quote comes from Websense, it's kind of logical that their employees spend their time surfing the web - to test the Websense web filter - so the "study" might not be very relevant :-)
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:22AM (#13122926)
    Love the word fungible. It means something like "exchangeable for similar things". Web surfing is NON-FUNGIBLE. That means if we were not web-surfing, as a respite from the stress of working with computers, we'd NOT be working, we'd be walking to the vending machines, looking out the window at the girls, or otherwise unwinding from the daily headaches.
  • A response based on technicalities to an article based on technicalites. We all know that web browsing does slow down productivity in some way most places where it is available, and yet when something comes out pointing at the obvious somebody has to attack those points on technicalities so that we all pretend that it doesn't exist. Sorry - just like coffee breaks, 9 times out of ten it will decrease productivity. Sure, you'll find someone who is going over the top on their estimates and be able to counter
    • But does that mean that we have to pretend that it doesn't happen?

      The article doesn't pretend that it doesn't happen, it simply points out that the number is based on wild-ass guesses collected by a company that has a vested interest in making the numbers appear as bad as possible.

      In this case, I believe that the "We'd better defend it now!" people are fully justified.

    • The study isn't so much talking down the internet as it is talking down the average person's work ethic. Of course people are going to get defensive. The only person who wouldn't is someone who actually spends a couple hours a day wasting time, is a manager, or isn't working. And the point being made by many people isn't that the internet is good (which it is), but rather that sometimes its more productive not to be working 100% of your day. This is why some companies put pool tables and basketball ne
    • Bean counters like to deal in simple concepts like adding up all the hours in the day and saying that's the amount of work they expect, and that any deviation from that is "lost productivity".

      The real truth is that productivity is very hard to measure, and expected productivity even harder. As the bean counters are usually fairly stupid, I'd suggest they simply stop trying and go count something that's really countable, like beans.

      Let the rest of us get back to work (and reading slashdot).
  • Sheesh, can I claim that I lose several billion a year due to websurfing?

    come on. This is a made up bit of information that only reason to exist is for an article to drum up readership.

    good grief, what other bull are they going to create next?

    I know "bathroom breaks waste trillions each year for businesses!"

    these businesses have full control over their internet connection, if they do not have competent IT staff to filter websites or limit connections then it is their own fault.
  • Like the article asks: where's the calculation of how much time we all spend answer work e-mail at home?"
    Anyone who works by the billable hour has a pretty good idea of the answer to that one- If you make $5 an hour and the company bills clients $10 an hour for your time, your company wants you to keep track of the time spend checking things at home.
    What I wonder is this- is the amt of time used to calculate the lost revenue assuming that we would be working during the time we are surfing? For me, a lot
  • it's lunchtime! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:27AM (#13122961) Journal

    I'm posting this during my lunch break.

    Then again, I'm salaried. I got here at 7.35am, I'll leave some time this evening. In the meantime I'll be spending several hours constantly flicking to the live internet commentary of the cricket.

    Cricket is more important that work.

    What I'll also do is meet my commitments. I have meetings to attend, documents to write, deadlines to meet. I'll do all these things. I'm paid to do these things.

    If the cricket makes me take longer to write a document, I'll stay a little later to get it finished. Sure, that's impacting on my non-work time - but since I'm letting my personal desire to watch cricket outweigh the need to do work it's a fair exchange.

    Is there productivity loss? On an 'output per hour' basis, definitely. But on an 'output per month' basis, there's a productivity gain. By taking a relaxed approach to my job I can sustain my working patterns without getting stressed, killing people, taking time off ill, etc.

    More to the point, I get my work done. My employer loves me. Life is good. And I get to watch the cricket.

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:35AM (#13123019)
      Hello Cederic,

      This is Robert, your boss down the hall...

      Then again, I'm salaried. I got here at 7.35am

      The starting time for your shift is 7:30.

      I'll leave some time this evening.

      As a friendly reminder, your shift ends at 5:30.

      In the meantime I'll be spending several hours constantly flicking to the live internet commentary of the cricket. Cricket is more important that work.

      Cederic, would you mind stepping into my office when you have a moment? Oh and bring one of those pink A5 sheets by the secretary's desk on your way if you please.

      -- Robert
  • I spend too much time in front of Firefox at work, but I do most of the organization's site maintenance at home, so I don't feel *too* bad about it.

    I also restrict myself to primarily news and tech:,,,,,, and a bit of I don't read long in-depth essays on the natue of morality, and my slashdot comments from work tend to be of the short, pithy variety, not the long winded three-hours-to-compose-and-seven-hour
  • What productivity? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:31AM (#13122986) Homepage Journal
    Most American jobs require, at most, 3 to 4 hrs of concerted effort per day. Beyond that, you're just making work for yourself to appear busy and aquire asskissing points.
    • Damn! Where can I get one of those jobs? My current job requires only about 30-60 mins of actual effort per day. Of course, the flipside is that I'm constantly being told how great a job I'm doing and I've received about a 15% salary increase over the past year. Although, having a job that actually requires some brainpower and results in a sense of satisfaction would be nice, too...
  • I only really browse the internets when I'm between huge queries. I do that part of the work that requires my attention, and then I spend a couple of minutes reading stuff.

    Do they also state how much productivity I gain from the Internet? Do they have any idea how many things I have programmed in half the time because of Google and various tech sites? Or how much faster I have resolved a tech issue with a FAQ, Knowlege Base or Forum?

    For IT jobs, I'd wager that the end result is that companies break
  • by Himring ( 646324 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:32AM (#13122996) Homepage Journal
    I am of the firm belief -- having a boss myself and then people under me that I delegate to -- that if someone produces the work I've requested in a timely manner, and that if I in turn produce for my boss, then I really don't care what else that person might be doing during the day. The best work environment is one where there is trust -- as in any human relationship. Whenever a marriage or a work place turns into one of distrust, where one is held accountable for all minutes and hours of the day -- where you were, what you were doing -- then the relationship simply isn't worth keeping. Give people tasks, give them a deadline, and then leave them alone. Take away the web and they'll do crossword puzzles, or do their nails or talk on their cell phones. If nothing else, they'll sit and stare. Someone who will not complete tasks will not complete tasks with or without the Internet. As a matter of fact, that same Internet just might help them do their job....
  • what is a good way to break it?

    does anyone spend most of their free time at home surfing the web? has anyone missed family get togethers, stayed in because he/she was surfing the web?

    i know i keep going back to websites like over and over, even though i don't expect a new headline every 20 minutes. since nothing new is at cnn, time to check the other 6 or 7 news websites i visit. nothing new there, better check back at cnn. i am sure some people think of porn the same way as i think of news.

  • was that most of the employees surfing are doing so while spending the other 95% of their jobs waiting on people to actually make project decisions and redoing their work for the 4th time because the decisions makers can't make up their minds.

    But I digress... :-)
  • I have one of those weird jobs where the boss doesn't care if we browse a little bit at work, and we don't complain when we spend 100+ hours a week here.

    Besides I control the proxy filter. How else would I find out where all the good porn sites are.

  • Our IT people- oh, wait, the current buzztitle is Information... I-something Serivces... or other whatsis- believe they are running our network in a competent manner, so my opinions on IT beliefs are rather low. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go download a 100Kbyte data sheet for the next hour or so, figure out what IP address they arbitrarily changed the Exceed server to and hope that I don't have to rewrite all mu Unix scripts due to another wacky unannounced configuration whim of the sysadmins.
  • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:47AM (#13123113) Homepage Journal
    When are people going to realize that more time spent "working" does not mean more productivity. The real measure of productivity is whether or not assigned goals are met on schedule. So which is better, the guy who comes early, stays late and looks like a hard worker but never delivers on his projects, or the gal who seems to be on the web all the time, leaves early, but has the uncanny ability to deliver good work consistently? Which one of these will make the company more profit?

    Everyone on /. knows how easy it is to look like you're working hard, but truly delivering the goods is another matter.
  • Economic data shows increasing gains in productivity, which means we're all doing more or the same work with fewer people. So, with their logic, web surfing at best is reducing the increase in productivity, not driving it backwards.
  • If I couldn't 'surf the web', I couldn't find the information I need in order to do my job. Its probably that way for anyone working in any IT field who needs to find current information on any kind of technology. Its not that print isn't usefull - its just too far behind, and in order to have enough information on hand you'd need a small to medium sized library in your cube.

    Any of these PHB-centric web-surfing-is-bad studies hit that one?
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:59AM (#13123207)
    I don't work in IT, but I know people who do. The only real way to estimate this is by HTTP request logs

    Here's how an IT manager would estimate this:

    (proxy log, simplified for /.)

    08:22:05 luser onto onto online banking page
    08:22:25 luser logs off online banking page (has to click and send an http request)
    08:27:05 luser loads cnn
    08:27:25 luser clicks on a story on CNN
    08:55:03 luser clicks on another story on CNN

    Now you could claim that luser was on CNN for 32 minutes. Is it true? Probably not, they probably read a story on CNN, left the browser open, did a whole bunch of work, then went back to the window and clicked another story. There total time "Surfing" is probably 5 minutes, but IT manager will count it as half an hour.

    There are also webpages that auto-refresh when you leave the browser open. CNN does it every 15 mintues.
  • Why can't employers accept surfing as a means to keep workers working and morale high. We are not robots...Okay, so block on the inappropriate things...Okay, so monitor our workflow incase if it's excessive...but don't take it away from us...I think it definitely helps me do *MORE* work when I am able to surf...I can concentrate better in spurts... If they took away the internet the site would dissapear! okay, ive never been there. but what about the people who do!! Strike it down as another
  • Kind of (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:10AM (#13123287) Homepage Journal
    Web surfing doesn't really destroy my productivity. I write software for a living. I work from 9-5 every day. I can't really write code straight from 9-5 with a lunch break. It can't be done. I get most of my work done early in the day, then my rate of work slows down. Every once in awhile while I'm thinking I'll hit the news and other sites. I don't do a lot of e-mail, but I do a lot of IM.

    Basically, I do as much work as I can in a day. If there wasn't the web and such to occupy time I would be twiddling thumbs or reading a book in that other time.

    If I had a job that was just 9-1 every day I would get the same amount of work done since that time would be solid full productivity work. I would also be much happier with that kind of schedule. But nobody is willing to pay me the same amount to work 9-1 even though the result of my work would be nearly identical to me working 9-5. Four hours every day wasted. Hurts me more than it hurts the company.
  • salaried workers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:17AM (#13123340)
    I'd like to see a calculation of the amount of money lost by salaried employees who work more than the mythical 40 hour work week without anything resembling overtime. Let's do some math.

    Let's consider just engineers. There are 2 million engineers in the US, nearly all of whom are salaried employees, nearly all of whom work over 40 hours a week. The average engineer makes 70-90K/yr. Let's take the average at 80k/yr. Now, assuming a 40-hour work-week and the standard 3-weeks vacation, that works out to about $41 an hour. Now, I'd say your average engineer would believe they work, on average, 50 hours per week. That's $40bn in lost wages for engineers alone, using conservative estimates. Now, consider the number of other overworked, salaried employees. The lost wages could easily run to 10x that!
  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:23AM (#13123386)
    They sold their filtering software to the Chinese government for use in censorship of pro-democracy sites. They actually had the news release on their website a few years ago.

    When asked "Gosh, do you think that this is a moral thing for an American company do to?" they replied "Hey, we just sell the software, we can't be responsible for how people use it."

    Anyone who has worked with sales before knows that is a load of shit. Before you start talking to a customer, you learn about their needs so you can better sell your product. There's no way they just passively got a contact with the chinese government. I promise you, they were over there for weeks, showing powerpoint presentations claiming that their product could filter and report on dissidents MUCH better than the competition.

    They've been putting up this bullshit about web usage for years. A few years ago, it was porn at work, and how companies are at risk for lawsuits if they don't immediately buy a filter. Of course, this fails the "What if it wasn't on a computer?" test, since if I brought an old-fashioned porn mag to work and was caught reading it, i'd be fired, and the company wouldn't be negligent. They don't need a $100,000 porn scanner at each door... but since it is on a COMPTUER, well, it is magic.

    I mean, check out the management []. Their CEO looks like he is about to rip off his false face to reveal the reptilian features underneath.

  • Another study says businesses lose 3 trillion dollars of productivity over people wasting time by talking to each other at work, about their kids, family, baseball, and other such things unrelated to their job. They often do this while they hang around the water fountain or the coffee machine. Solution? We should ban all coffee machines and water fountains to boost the economy.
  • Another bit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:27AM (#13123420)
    If we're going to count the amount of time I spend thinking about Slashdot at work, how about we count the amount of time I sit thinking about work on my personal time? When I'm working on a project, code is going through my head all the time. I'll be in the shower thinking about an algorithm, or eating dinner trying to figure out where a bug came from. When it gets bad, I'll be trying to get to sleep, but I'll be distracted by code. When I finally do get to sleep, I'll dream about code. I'd like to see a study done about this...
  • surfing the web is one way to be up to day with the world. It is important to recognize that the brain actually needs to have a few relaxing moments every day, and the reading of news is one way to actually let the brain relax some pathways so that you can come back to your actual task a little sharper.

    It all comes down to the type of work you do, and the human brain and body isn't made for monotonous work, it needs variation or you will go nuts or get problems with overstressed elbows or whatever.

    So g

  • I happen to work from home as well outside of the so-called work hours. It more than makes up for the minimal amount of time I spend websurfing.

    Now, they chose to ask IT managers? Hahaha, who do you think sends me the links to go checkout? Who do I shoulder surf over every day? On a comparison scale, for every time I surf the web, my manager(S) surf the web 4 times.
  • ..lose $178 billion a year to web surfing in the workplace..

    That's what keeping Bush from yet another invasion!
  • by Ranger ( 1783 )
    You aren't supposed to tell anyone.

    Obligatory quote from "Office Space": []

    Bob Slydell: You see, what we're trying to do is get a feeling for how people spend their time at work so if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?

    Peter Gibbons: Yeah.

    Bob Slydell: Great.

    Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh - after that I sorta space out for an hour.

    Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?

    Peter Gibbo
  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:50AM (#13123600) Homepage
    "Websense, a company that develops web filtering and blocking software for schools and offices, is behind a study that's trumping up the costs of online surfing. First, their claims:"

    Most of what we take as news today is actually a press release being used to stimulate business. Of course Websense would see that illicit browsing is up, they want to sell product.

    The same has been proven true of the "Year of the Suit" campaign. Turns out that Gentleman's Wearhouse had been cranking out PR's stating that suits were back in, etc.

    It's all advertising pretending to be news. The minute you see a specific company name in a supposed news article you know it's a press release.

    So it's hype. Don't worry about it.
  • Incentives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thayner ( 130464 )
    A better solution then counting hours wasted is for companies to establish incentives that make people want to work. For instance, create relatively small entreprenurial organizations within the company. This allows for both performers and non-performers to be visible. The performers then get CEO type incentives -- stock options, stock grants . CEOs, while not popular on slashdot, tend to work long hours and also focus on the company rather then the keeping under the radar mentality that seems to pervad
  • Short Answer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzybunny ( 112938 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @10:07AM (#13123748) Homepage Journal
    "Face time". Look it up.

    Companies need _some_ way to track how many hours employees are actually around the office. However, many anagers have taken the additional mental leap of directly associating this with how much their employees actually work.

    Hence, the concept of "face time". If you're not in your seat x hours per day, that must mean you're not working and not productive. Take it from there and you'll find a quick explanation for why "studies" such as this one are so widely accepted.
  • by vhold ( 175219 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @10:27AM (#13123938)
    I pretty much feel that web surfing does decrease productivity overall.

    What makes it so nefarious in my mind isn't the _amount_ of time spent web surfing, but how easy it is for a tiny little brain fart to turn into a web surfing session, and how that time is not the same as a normal break.

    Next time you need to think over something before you do it, need a little break, are waiting for something to finish, etc, try talking a little walk and just get away from the computer.

    I've found that web surfing tends to so completely lock up my mind that my subconcious problem solving ability is significantly reduced, but if I'm away from the computer, just kinda going 'duuuh', looking at some trees or chillin in a chair looking at the cieling, solutions to problems will often just dawn on me.

    Also web surfing doesn't tend to be a very refreshing break, going from working to surfing to working again doesn't stretch you out, doesn't rest your eyes, barely rests your hands, etc.

    I see all these unused rec rooms with couches, pool, foosball, etc, everybody is just sitting at their computer surfing or IMing instead of meeting up in those rooms to chill for a second. Heck, even without those, I barely see people hanging out near water coolers or coffee bars.

    I think people never do so because they won't look busy, even though surfing/IMing is just as unproductive generally.

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