Slacking off at work makes people more productive: study

Are you frustrated that you can't watch the latest YouTube version of the bed intruder song while at work?

Try telling your boss it will actually make you more productive.

A new study conducted at the University of Copenhagen shows restricting employee access to sites not used for work is bad for the work environment.

Researchers divided people into two groups and asked everyone to watch a video of people passing a ball back and forth and count how many passes they make.

People in one group were allowed to watch a funny clip before counting the passes while the others saw a message saying they could watch the video if they clicked a link, but were told not to watch it.

The groups were in nearby rooms and the second group could hear the first group laughing at the funny clip.

Workers who watched the funny clip first made fewer mistakes when counting than their peers who were not initially distracted by the video. It turns out not being able to do as one pleases and being forced to follow company policy makes people less focused. Critics suggest the one group may have been distracted by the laughter.

Since the beginning of the Internet it has been a favourite thing for people to turn to when looking to slack off at work. A survey in 2005 showed 45 per cent of people said surfing the Net was their favourite workplace time-wasting activity.

This was even before the invention of Twitter and before Facebook really took off. It had nearly twice the popularity of the next choice - socializing with co-workers. Only four per cent of people chose Office Space's Peter Gibbons' method of spacing out.

Although the Internet was not so widely used in 1999 when the movie was released.

According the New Yorker, this is the first study that looks at Internet performance and will power, but many other studies have been conducted that just test will power.

Most people only have a limited amount of will power. If people use energy-controlling impulses in one area, such as not going online at work, they have less energy to focus and be productive.

One possible solution proposed by the researchers is to create "Internet breaks". A modern-day, healthy take on the cigarette or coffee break that would allow workers to periodically spend a few minutes looking at whatever they want online.

Maybe the answer to being more on the ball is to take your eye off it and do something silly.

(Reuters Photo)

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