You arrive to work surprisingly early. Determined to reap the full benefits of being ‘the early bird’ you turn on your laptop with the full intention of taking advantage of your head start. 10 minutes in and it’s going well so far. However, as the clock ticks on, you find yourself getting more and more distracted; See: opening a tab for Amazon to check the ‘deal of the day,’ picking up your phone to view that hilarious cat video your friend sent you, scrolling through your social media feed etc. As the end of the business day rolls in, you find yourself thinking: Where did the time go?
You’re not alone in this. Studies show that on average, employees ‘cyberloaf’ 60 to 80% of their time! Cyberloafing impedes your work performance and efficiency and costs industries billions of dollars annually. In order to stop it, we need to first understand the whats and whys of the phenomenon.
What is cyberloafing?
Cyberloafing is when you fritter away your work time on unrelated online activity. It is not as easily discernible as other forms of loafing, like taking personal calls or having long lunches. While these forms of loafing would require you to physically leave your desk, cyberloafing can be done sneakily, at your work area itself! Why does cyberloafing even occur to begin with?
1. Sleepy workers
Why would you being sleepy make you cyberloaf while you are on the clock? The theory is that when you are tired, you exhibit poorer self-control and have a reduced attention span. This in turn makes you more inclined to engage in ‘risk-taking’ behaviour in the workplace i.e. spend time on personal pursuits.
The simple solution to this would be to get enough hours of sleep every night. For most adults, the recommended number of hours of sleep is 7-9 hours every night. Not only does being well-rested boost your overall mental well-being, it ensures you stay productive throughout the workday.
2. A coping mechanism
Research suggests that many employees cyberloaf to deal with workplace stressors. Have you ever found yourself being stressed out at work and needing to let off a little steam? If you indeed have, one of the ways you may be coping with your stressors is by distracting yourself through cyberloafing. In this case, cyberloafing provides a temporary reprieve from the problem at hand.
However, not tackling the root of your issues may lead to frequent episodes of cyberloafing which may heavily impede your overall productivity. Hence, it may be healthier to address your stressors head on rather than turning to cyberloafing as a solution, even if it seemingly provides instant relief.
You could be engaging in cyberloafing simply because you are bored! Recent studies reveal that you are more likely to cyberloaf to get through a slow, dreary day when you feel that your work is getting mundane.
So, if you ever find yourself cyberloafing when you are on the clock, see it as a wake-up-call to take action on talking to your boss about switching up your workload. Challenging yourself could even make you more passionate about your work and may give you a sense of fulfilment that you are lacking with your current workload.
Cyberloafing never pays. At the end of the day, not only does it costs organisations billions, it costs you your productivity. If you do find yourself cyberloafing frequently, it may be worth tuning in with yourself and working out why exactly you are getting distracted – this could be key in kicking your cyberloafing habit once and for all!