The proliferation of social networking sites, blogging forums, gaming and music sites on the World Wide Web has given a lot of options for entertainment, communication and learning too. Before purchasing a major product you do explore the net to get a good idea about the different options that you can avail. Before embarking upon a journey, it is common to search and make bookings for tickets and resorts online. Certainly, the Internet has become a platform to surf through plethora of options before you narrow down your choice to one or two for products and services and make the final purchase. At the same time however, this online medium has also become a major distraction and to some, a source of constant stress. There are companies that have strict IT policies against access to certain sites – the Internet may be the forbidden fruit at workplaces! The fact is that this online medium is truly a big distraction for employees working within the four walls of an office. Excessive logging in to Facebook, Twitter, shopping sites, and chatting tools not only wastes crucial work hours in unproductive activities but also eats into the IT bandwidth of the organizations.
An Insight into Productivity Loss
Loss of productivity due to extraneous Internet activity is dangerous – it continually undermines the performance of workforce and office equipment in different ways:
Productivity losses are caused by:
- Frequent access to personal email
- Online gaming
- Instant messaging and sending of irrelevant chain mails
- Chat rooms
- Surfing of web for reasons other than work – checking and commenting on Facebook notifications, checking products at E commerce sites, and reading online gossip magazines.
As per findings by an IT research firm Gartner, non-work-related Internet surfing activities result in an estimated 40% productivity loss every year for American businesses. The legal ramifications of viewing unauthorized or pornographic content in the workplace are even more dangerous and result in termination of thousands of employees each year.
To begin with, you need to identify your biggest sources of distractions at work. These typically are (but not limited to) social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, blogging forums (especially your own blogs), personal email sites, instant messengers, news sites, financial sites, online and social game sites. Employees often do not even realize the total manhours that they waste while surfing leisurely through these sites. The right approach is to avoid them completely – at least during the work hours in office. If you use you need to have access to your email account for official purposes and it is also aligned to your Facebook account, ensure that you turn off the notifications. Messages like ‘(a friend) tagged you in their pic!’ do catch attention and tempt you to visit the site for a ‘quick check’ – the visit however is not as quick as you anticipated. It is easy to get caught in the vicious circle wherein you add a comment, a friend replies to same, till you begin to chat for minutes. So the golden rule is to simply turn off the notifications from social networking sites.
Websites with updates for ongoing sports events also get employees hooked for hours. There may be a world series or your favorite team may be playing against its arch rivals, but checking the score after every 5 minutes may divert you from a project that you are expected to work on. Certainly, you will not like to stay after office hours just because you spent that crucial time following the event! It is safe and wise to keep away from sports sites when you are at work.
If you not in the Human Resources dept, avoid surfing job portals in office! Yes, you may be hunting for a better job and fat salary package, but your current workplace is not the right venue to search and apply for new jobs. This not only eats into your time but can also put your existing job at risk.
Adult sites are obviously a no- no at work. It is not only embarrassing to be caught by a colleague, an IT administrator or your reporting manager, but such websites are also the biggest source of viruses and malware that infect your files and can damage all your work. Indeed there must be strict policies in every organization to block any access to such websites.
Popular browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer allow users to block certain websites. If it is difficult to avoid the temptation of net surfing for entertainment, you can edit the settings of your browser to keep away from these sites. However, it is that sense of self-discipline that needs to be worked upon. While deciding upon ‘what not to view in office’ it is good to make a note of websites, blogs and forums that distract you the most plus the ones that are potential dangers for your data – just keep away from those and you will get used to a sincere work routine during productive hours!
About the Author:
Frank Johnson is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services that help small to mid size businesses. To know more about web content to avoid in your office you may interact with him here