Cyber-Slacking in the Workplace

Posted by Dieter Wood on 11/12/2017

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6% of the UK-based workforce spends more than an hour of their working day on social networking sites…

Cyber-slacking is where employees use the Internet or their smartphones during work hours for personal use. This could include checking social media, watching live sports games or Internet shopping. 

Also known as gold-bricking (making something appear more valuable than it is in reality), this surge in workplace distraction may be partly to blame for the shrinking of western productivity growth. This was highlighted in Philip Hammond’s recent budget, which expects the UK economy to grow by 1.5% this year, down from the estimate of 2% made in March.

Despite productivity growth stagnating since the 2008 financial crisis, this parallels the increase in smartphone production and use in the same time frame (highlighted by the rise of the iphone since 2007 and the prediction that by 2019, 2.5 billion people will own a smartphone). As a result, it is now harder for companies to restrict worker’s personal Internet activity and therefore also more difficult to control cyber-slacking.

Cyber-slacking may provide workforce insights

The statistics may highlight a correlation between cyber-slacking and decreasing productivity, but this may be more useful to business owners than first thought – especially as the relationship between productivity and employee engagement may highlight trends on work satisfaction.

Chances are, those who spend more time browsing the Internet or social media during work hours are those who are less stimulated by their tasks. If cyber-slacking is a common theme in the workplace, it may be a sign that skill-sets are not being utilised effectively.

Understanding the causes of cyber-slacking has important psychological and economic consequences, and so taking time to delve deeper may be worthwhile for your business. Better understand your workforce and their habits, and it’s likely you’ll be able to harness people’s true potential.

Cyber-slacking can involve browsing social media.

Your workplace plays a role too

If your workplace itself is stimulating and promotes collaboration, it may help to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity – and therefore reduce cyber-slacking.

A workplace that truly caters for people and their day-to-day tasks is one that sees better results, regardless of sector. How do we know? For 25 years, we’ve been placing people firmly at the centre of our office design and build projects – and by doing so, we’ve helped a range of businesses make the most out of their workplaces.