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Yes, Your Employees Do All Kinds of Personal Errands During Work Hours

A recent survey shows that most employees run personal errands during the work day...and not just during a lunch hour.
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A study performed by the digital media group Captivate found that more professionals than ever are taking care of personal errands during office hours.

Captivate, a division of the media giant Gannett, conducted a blind survey of 838 people in 14 metropolitan centers. Surveyors found that 93 percent of respondents either ordered necessities online, left the office to run errands, or went shopping at nearby stores during breaks. One in five employees admitted to doing all three in a given week.

Errands during breaks--that doesn't sound so bad, right?

After all, two of the most popular stops, banks at 71 percent and post offices at 46 percent, are notorious for having the same 9 to 5 hours as most office workers.

But consider this: 68 percent of workers cop to spending time surfing non-work related subjects on the Internet, and 53 percent spend their time on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.

Researchers also noted a 63 percent increase in the number of working professionals who shop online at the office since 2011. Men, it turns out, are more likely to take shopping breaks at their desk, researching and ordering items online, while women are more likely to step out to do a quick round of food shopping or grab a manicure (yes, really).

Perhaps more surprisingly, managers do not seem particularly upset by these employee behaviors.

"You know, I do have to take some time during the day to schedule doctors’ appointments," Rakia Reynolds, president of Skai Blue Media, told Pacific Standard magazine. "I think there has to be some kind of balance...I have no problem when someone has to take care of something [during the workday]."

Gene Marks, owner of Marks Group PC and Inc. columnist echoed the sentiment. "I don’t really care what [my employees are] doing with their days," he told Pacific Standard. "I only care about them getting their jobs done and on time."

Inc.'s Jessica Stillman points to another explanation for why managers may feel so lax about employees running errands on company time--the deteriorating definition of work as a specific place or set number of hours suggests an understanding among management personel that workers are getting more done outside the typical work day.

A Knowledge@Wharton Today post from 2012 reports:

Many managers are taking an increasingly relaxed attitude toward how workers structure their days, in part because the bosses assume--correctly, according to the study results--that many are putting in time outside the office to finish work tasks.

IMAGE: Leland Bobbe/Getty
Last updated: Aug 5, 2013

FRANCESCA FENZI | Staff Writer

Francesca Fenzi reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle.




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