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Surfing the Web at Work is Good

Posted by on 23/08/2011

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A study shows that browsing and surfing the Internet from work is, in fact, refreshing and good for you and helps you be more productive.

In the”Impact of Cyberloafing on Pyschological Engagement”, the name of the study from the National University of Singapore by Don J. Q. Chen and Vivien K. G Lim., had two experiments. The first had 96 undergraduate students placed in each one of the following groups:

  • a control group
  • a “rest-break” group
  • a Web-surfing group

They were all first given a sample text, in which they were assigned the task of highlighting as many occurrences of the alphabet “e” as they could in 20 minutes. For the following 10 minutes, the control group was asked to carry out another simple task, while the “rest-break” group could do anything except browse the internet and finally, the last group was allowed to surf the internet, before being given the highlighting task for the next 10 minutes.

Based on the results obtained, the researchers found that the web-surfing group had lower mental-exhaustion levels, higher levels of engagement and were much more productive compared to the other groups.

The second experiment had 191 adults which yielded similar results.

Apparently, browsing the internet has a restorative aspect which isn’t offered by other activities such as responding to personal emails; when we browse the internet, we choose what we wish to read or look for, similar to lunch breaks where we have a choice in what to eat. Such a choice is not available when it comes to tasks like emails, as we cannot control what emails we receive. Compared to replying to a message, for example, is more “cognitively demanding”, which requires us to “pay attention to what is saidin the email”.

Based on the study, it seems workers should be allowed to browse during working hours for a limited time. What do you think? Have a say in the forums!

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