Don’t feel guilty about browsing the Internet at work—turns out it may actually improve your performance.
According to a new study, Web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared to other activities such as making personal calls, texts or emails, let alone working straight through with no rest at all.
…The researchers found that the Web-surfers were significantly more productive and effective at the tasks than those in the other two groups and reported lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom and higher levels of engagement.
“Browsing the Internet serves an important restorative function,” the authors said. Personal emailing, by contrast, was particularly distracting for workers. The second study, which surveyed 191 adults, found similar results.
Why is Web-surfing more restorative than, say, responding to a friend’s email? When browsing the Internet, people “usually choose to visit only the sites that they like—it’s like going for a coffee or snack break. Breaks of such nature are pleasurable, rejuvenating the Web surfer,” wrote Dr. Lim, in an email. By contrast, workers can’t control the kinds of email they receive, and reading and replying to each message is “cognitively more demanding, relative to Web surfing, as you need to pay attention to what is said on the email,” she added.
I wonder if maybe I’m an exception, though.
OK. I’ll admit I’m in an unusual position, being a hobbyist blogger who somehow morphed into a professional blogger. Of course, it could go right back to being a hobby with one job change, but right now blogging is part of my job description, and thus so is surfing the web.
So, of course surfing the web makes me a better worker, because I can’t really do my job without surfing the web. The more I surf, the better. Of course, I’m usually surfing for information specific to what I’m writing about for work (nearly all of which gets crossposted here, lest this blog wither on the vine). On the other hand, even I need a break from work-constrained web surfing, if only to come up for air and give my brain a breather by focusing on some other topic.
It may be too early to disable your “boss key” just yet, but maybe soon a little “surf break” won’t be enough to get you fired. (Of course, if you’re doing something wildly inappropriate and dumb — like surfing porn at work — at least one court says you can’t be fired. But maybe you should be fired.)