Distracted at Work by the Web? These Simple Steps Can Protect Your Job

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Are American workers "distracted" from productivity through excessive use of the Internet? The website blocking firm StopProcrastinating.com surveyed 5,000 workers to show there's a problem, finding:

  • 68% say they "have been distracted from completing work by checking emails, browsing the Web and engaging with social media — an increase of 9% from one year ago."
  • 59% of survey respondents admitted that the reduction in productivity "caused them dissatisfaction and unhappiness."
  • 55% of career professionals spend more time chatting with friends online than face to face. That's up 5% from a year ago.
  • 39% of workers say they've wasted an hour of work per day using the Web for non-work purposes, also up 5% from last year.

"As usage of the internet increases, so does its presence in every part of our lives at work and at home," says Will Little, the founder of StopProcrastinating.com. "We now no longer distinguish between when we should book a holiday, contact a friend or do some personal research. The Internet is there all the time, and we use it for personal reasons at work more often than ever before."

Read More: Office Etiquette Is One Thing, but Lots of Workers Lack ‘Moral Compass'

That's not good for productivity, or our careers, he adds.

"It seems that being able to communicate with friends quickly over social media is a positive development, but engaging on social forums to debate issues, as some people in our survey admitted, suggests that some people are becoming more distracted by the Internet at work than they should," Little says. "While the immediate sense of gratification might be high, over time our survey shows this leads to a lack of satisfaction as productivity levels drop and people begin to achieve less."

Increasingly, employers are aware of the link between on-the-job Web use and decreases in effectiveness and productivity. It's a bottom-line issue for executives, and employees they see abusing on-the-job Internet privileges could pay a steep price, losing respect, responsibility and pay — even their jobs, if the infraction is serious enough.

To avoid that, you probably don't need StopProcrastinating.com. You just need to be smart about Internet use at work.
Read More: 5 Things Employers Want From You (Including Basic Language Skills)

For starters, be aware of your firm's Internet use policy, especially if you're a new hire (getting caught reading TMZ.com on the job your first week on the job is a big red flag for management). Don't be afraid to ask about the policy; chances are, your manager will appreciate your candidness and your wanting to know appropriate workplace boundaries.

Also, be respectful of blocked websites at your company. The way Web blocking software is designed, in many cases management knows it if you keep trying to log onto eBay and may call you on the carpet for the transgression.

Stay away from social media, too. If you use inappropriate language on Twitter or Facebook, "keylogging" software lets management know it came from your computer, which is the company's property. (Even off the job, be wary of what you say on social media — that too can easily get back to your employer and threaten your good will at the firm.)

The best advice is to use common sense and not abuse non-work websites in the workplace. Doing so opens up too many opportunities to alarm employers about your workplace productivity drain — not something you want your employers associating with you no matter what TMZ.com is doing right now.

— By Brian O'Connell for MainStreet

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