General 4min de Leitura - 05 de April de 2016

Internet: Distraction or advancement to productivity?

Mulher digitando em notebook

This post is also available in: Português English Español

[vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Internet boom has substantially changed the daily lives of individuals and businesses, facilitating the development of activities and access to information. Easy access to the internet in the work environment, along with an infinity of information present in the network, fosters discussions about the impacts of using the resource on employee productivity.

In corporate circles, many questions remain unanswered, as follows: Does the use of social networks disrupt productivity? What is the balance between distraction, search for references, and productivity? The views are divergent, although there is a consensus: each company must adopt guidelines adapted to its business reality, making the Internet a catalyst for productivity, rather than a source of distraction. Understand a little more.

The scientific side

A study developed by Triadshows that 35.6% of professionals affirm that the computer network itself is what further distracts focus on work. In addition, 27.3% spend time with e-mails and 21.4% surf the web, randomly. When questioned about the most commonly used activity to kill time, 40.9% say they forward jokes via e-mail, 26.1% exchange YouTube links with colleagues, 20.6% play online games, and 11.1% watch pornography.

 A study by Dr. Brent Coker in 2009 reported that employees who used up to 20% of their time on the internet for personal purposes, including social networks and other websites, had productivity gains of 9% compared to those who never dispersed during the work schedule. It is worth noting that this is a research conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, taking into account a specific group of people.

Although there are controversial points about the impact of Internet use on productivity, there is also unanimity. The point of convergence is the fact that if the leaks are frequent and uncontrolled, they will certainly harm the employee and the business. Even Brent Coker’s research, which advocates performance gain, reports that if individuals invest more than 20% of their time in non-work-related activities, they experiences a marked loss of productivity.

Internet vs. Productivity

By taking an analogy with the research presented, it is possible to raise three reflections on this subject.

Self-control of employees

The first reflection is associated with the ability of employees to develop self-control, for the conscious use of the internet. This is the state of the art, achieved by a very small share of people. Discovering the profile of Internet use in the company is the first challenge of managers. If most of the company’s employees are consciously proficient, your company is truly privileged and you do not have to invest much time in implementing methods to keep your employee’s focus on business-relevant activities.

On the other hand, if you doubt about the employees’ Internet usage profile, or are sure whether they use a great part of their time to unproductive activities, it is important to implement mechanisms that, firstly, provide insight into the use of internet, and also make it possible to customize the use of the resource according to the needs of the business.

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Cost-benefit of leaks

To contextualize it, we will retrieve the research developed by Dr. Brent Coker. It is important to emphasize that we do not have in-depth research data, including the model that made it possible to measure the 9% gain in employee productivity.

Inspiring the reflection on the subject, we present a very pertinent remark, made by Carlos Barbosa, in one of his posts in the web blog Mais tempo. What is the gain for a company that exchanges 20% of employee time for a 9% productivity gain? How much gain/loss does it represent for the company? Would this cost justify the unrestricted availability of the internet in the corporate environment?

Think about it, understand your employees’ Internet usage profile and take your position. Suggestion of tool to measure the waste generated by the misuse of the internet: Productivity calculator.

Websites harmful to the work environment

Now we are going to deal with a very delicate subject that can bring serious problems to the work environment and that often does not enter the guidelines when the focus is productivity. Making use of the Internet for personal purposes or as a way of relaxation, under no circumstances means using it for illegal or improper purposes. Websites with adult content as well as gender, racial or religious discrimination, or those that pose a risk to the security of the corporate network, should be completely banned.

Another relevant fact is the legal support, which guarantees the company to monitor the use of the internet in a corporate environment. In some cases, internet access reports may also be used as evidence to prove employee misconduct.

Undue accesses happen very often, and frequently they are not identified. The use of security solutions, to give visibility to the use of the Internet and to enable the establishment of controls, is the first step to be taken by companies that have identified or are seeking to identify this type of problem.

Having visibility on the use of the Internet is increasingly strategic for organizations, regardless of their size or segment. It is very important to disassociate the personalization of the use of the internet, from the blocking of social networks and the application of restrictive controls. Customizing internet usage goes far beyond blocking or allowing websites. That is the reason of the great importance in understanding the pains related to the use of the Internet, in order to establish personalized structures that provide visibility on the use of the resource.

Information securityhas full synergy with productivity concepts, enabling development of proactive actions including controls for access management, or simply acting in a timely manner, on websites harmful to the business, as reported in the contents of this blog post.

How does your company handle internet access? Do you personalize internet usage in the work environment? If you need help, talk to our expert. We have customized solutions for your business.

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This post is also available in: Português English Español