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Technology & Innovation

Are You Reading This At Work? Go Right Ahead

While you’re at it, let your boss know about a recent study that suggests that the amount of willpower exerted in order to avoid using the Internet for personal use could contribute to a decrease in productivity.

What’s the Latest Development?

A study done on the temptation of using the Internet at work for personal use showed that the inner energy exerted by workers in order to comply with a no-personal-use policy is so great that it actually decreases productivity. In tests involving simulated piece-rate tasks and a willpower challenge, the study team found that those who were given the challenge made nearly three times more mistakes on the tasks than those who weren’t given the challenge. The differences held up even when accounting for other factors that might affect accuracy. The findings were published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

What’s the Big Idea?

The study is the first to draw a correlation between temptation and labor productivity among adults, and suggests that attempts to restrict personal Internet use among employees — the top time-wasting activity done at work, according to a 2005 survey — may be counterproductive. For those businesses that are still troubled by the amount of personal surfing taking place during work hours, the researchers suggest “either [removing] the Internet completely or [giving] employees Internet breaks similar to cigarette or coffee breaks.”

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