Skip to content
Surprising Science

Tell your boss that cyberloafing is good for productivity

Cyberloafing — or, absent-mindedly browsing the internet — actually has a place in the workday according to this recently published study.
Milton from Office Space, 1999, 20th Century Fox

You know when you’re bored at work? Sure you do. 55% of workers under 50 report being bored at work while 16% of them are, in the words of the study, “actively disengaged.” Which means that if you work in an office with 10 people, you can count on the fact that 1 of them has mentally checked out. And, so, what do you do when you’ve mentally checked out of your daily tasks but there’s a computer in front of you? You loaf around on the internet. Youtube, Facebook, Reddit, incredible science and tech and culture based articles. To the average boss, this so-called “internet loafing” might seem like a bad thing that’s cutting into productivity. But in actual fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

According to a recently published study, cyberloafing is the perfect antidote to workplace boredom. The reasoning? It keeps you seeking the new and is a perfect coping mechanism for being underworked. Researcher Shani Pindek at the University of Haifa in Israel studied the workload (and the subsequent boredom relating to said workload) of 463 of her university colleagues, and found that “these findings support the conceptualization of cyberloafing as a boredom coping mechanism rather than a form of counterproductive workplace behavior and highlight the importance of investigating the impact of underload and boredom on employee behaviors.” 

There’s no arguing, even within the study, that cyberloafing is a type of counterproductivity. Surfing around the internet while you’re supposed to be working is the very definition of laziness, and any boss is in the right to write you up/get upset/reprimand you for doing the opposite of work when you’re supposed to be working. But when you have time, the study argues, it’s good to use that time to keep your brain sharp. And if keeping your brain sharp involves watching cat videos or, my personal favorite, The Marmoset Song (turn the speakers up), I’m in. 

Perhaps the best way to understand the study is this: cyberloafing is better than being flat-out bored at work, as boredom can be more detrimental to productivity and workflow (than cyberloafing). 


Up Next