NEWSLETTER – APR 2007
WASTING TIME ON THE INTERNET
While the Internet has become important to many companies, it can
become a primary cause of lost productivity in the workplace. As a work related
means of web-based advertising, information retrieval and communications it is
a great tool but for numerous employees it becomes a source of wasted time.
Before the Internet came along it was fairly easy to spot an employee wasting
time on numerous personal calls and such. Now, it is no longer obvious and
people can be seen hunched over their computers typing away, but unless you
were to look over their shoulders you wouldn’t know if they were working on
There are 5 major forms of time wasting that can occur across from a
computer. Most if used in moderation during lunch and such wouldn’t be too
significant, but recent studies have confirmed that in some cases employees
were spending up to seven hours a day doing one or more of the following
frequent time wasters:
Browsing the Internet
Visiting Websites such as Facebook have
become an obsession for some people. Following up on all their friends from
school, what they are doing and who they are seeing can take up considerable
amounts of time. Popular Fan Websites draw people into check on their favourite
celebrities or television shows. Sports Sites may be useful, to check on a
score, but it may be hard not to stop and read a couple of articles while you
are there. For people without Internet access at home
this may be an even greater problem since their work computer may be their only
route into this world.
Programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Messenger and
Google Talk are programs that computer users can use to talk to one another
over the Internet. This has largely replaced the more obvious personal calls
and employees can spend several hours a day chatting with friends while
appearing to be working. These programs can be useful in the work environment,
if limited only to business related conversations.
Non Work Related E-Mail
In one case when I came into upgrade a new employee’s computer I found
no less than 500 accumulated personal e-mails containing jokes, picture, videos
and such. This occurred within 2 weeks of that person occupying the job. Not
only is this a substantial source of wasted time, it may be a source of
computer viruses which can come in attached to the pictures or videos going
I spend a fair amount of time each month fixing
computers that have slowed down or started to malfunction due to user initiated
downloads of software. Users download screensavers and assorted utilities
claiming to make the computer faster while only aggravating their problems.
Computer games were more of a problem in the early
days and an occasional game of Solitaire while on lunch or coffee break seem
innocent enough. Some new Internet based games are quite addictive however and
can go on for hours.
TAKING CORRECTIVE ACTION
It’s difficult to say what controls are reasonable
in the working environment. These problems can be relatively minor or quite
significant and are difficult to monitor and control. Some affected companies have been forced to
initiate very strict guidelines to control these activities, such as:
Announcing that Website access
will be monitored and is limited to work related sites.
Banning all Messenger Programs
within the workplace unless authorized for specific uses.
Restricting E-mail to work related
Banning unauthorized software downloads.
Banning games during business
Let us know if you have any concerns in these areas
and would like to monitor usage levels.