Web surfing destroys office productivity: chilling new statistics

Buried deep in a Guardian Newspaper report (February 13) on a new 'lads e-zine' are some chilling figures which reveal that in some organisations non-business-related web activity in the workplace is consuming up to 40% of the working day. But what can you do about it?

According to a recent study by the research company Tickbox, British workers are adding up to 14 days' unofficial holiday a year, emailing and browsing online.

The technology firm SurfControl reckons workers spend an hour a day on personal email alone

The employment law firm Peninsula report that employees spend up to a staggering three hours a day on personal internet surfing - thats 40% of their working day.

If these figures are reasonably representative, and we need to be aware of the potential for over-statement in support of sellling tools and services, then it is obvious that more and more companies will be looking at measures and controls to reduce employee web access.

The smarter firms will also be asking another question:

"How do we channel some of this amazing internet energy and magnetism into our employee's business related activities"?

Even more importantly this research confirms that the 9-5, five day per week, physically co-located, enterprise is a flawed and outdated structure.

Such structures institutionalise and demotivate employees and need to continue to be replaced with virtual enterprises where employees work from wherever is convenient using virtual technologies and physically meet as and when required.

These virtual enterprises manage more by outputs than time so personal web surfing is a cost to the employee not the enterprise.

For an interesting angle on virtual enterprises see Professor Charles Handy's excellent writings on the Inverted doughnut model of organisations.

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