Maybe taking a few minutes to scroll Facebook on your work computer isn't as bad as you think it is. In today's work culture, companies are very stringent about how you should be spending your work time, especially at the office. And browsing social media on the job isn't one of those you typically classify as 'time well spent'.
Well, the research says otherwise
A new study suggests that this behavior, known as 'cyberloafing', can help ease boredom. Shani Pindek of the University of Haifa examined 463 non-instructional university staff members and found that those with a low workload were more likely to get bored and turn to social media procrastination.
"Cyberloafing is a rather natural response to workplace boredom and it is different from other (more harmful) forms of counterproductive work behaviors," Pindek said.
Pindek shared that, in many cases, cyberloafing might not even be harmful to an employee's job performance if they don't procrastinate too much. In fact, she suggests that procrastinating might even help combat stress.
It makes sense too.
Let's consider two factors here.
First, workplace boredom leads to disengagement. It should come as no surprise to learn that people don't want to do things they find boring. Similarly, stress is known to impair performance.
Second, taking breaks helps productivity, not harms it. Imagine trying to run a few miles or lift weights without giving yourself a breather in between. Your brain is much like that-trying to do too much at once will leave you exhausted. It needs time to recuperate, so give it some time to do just that.
Strike the balance.
Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind--don't use this as an excuse to goof off all day. It's a well-known fact that one distraction costs 23 minutes of productivity. The internet's propensity for outrage doesn't help either, so you need to be disciplined. A wise person once said,
"With great procrastination comes great responsibility." - Author unknown
There's also the whole issue of privacy. It goes without saying that you need to be careful of what gets shared on social media, especially when using a work computer. In an age defined by looming cybersecurity issues, we all need to be incredibly vigilant of how something is shared, where it's shared, and the surrounding privacy rights (thanks, Mark).
That being said, if you're getting too bored with your work, consider getting away from the desk. Maybe chat by the water cooler, grab a snack, or go for a brisk walk.
So, the next time someone asks why you're browsing your Twitter feed on the job, you'll be able to respond with good reason.
Speaking of Twitter, I wonder what's trending today...