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Survey: Web browsing can boost productivity

You say your employees are playing Angry Birds online instead of working? No big deal. Now they’re toting tablet computers into the bathroom? Don’t worry. Can’t keep track of what your work-from-home workers are doing? Relax. It could all be a good thing for your business. Here’s a closer look at some of the latest small-business surveys.

Next time you catch your employees watching cute kitten videos on YouTube instead of working, maybe you’d better give them a pat on the back. A study recently presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management found that browsing the Internet actually re-energises workers and makes them more productive, the Huffington Post reported.

In the experiment, three groups of subjects were assigned a task. One group had to keep working with no break, a second group got break time to do anything but use the Internet and the third group got to play around online. Those who got to surf the Internet were not only significantly more productive than the other two groups, but they were also more engaged, more upbeat about their work and less mentally drained. (Personally, I know a little bit of browsing my favorite political sites always leaves me recharged.) The study’s conclusion? Don’t “Big Brother” your team.

The term “bathroom break” is taking on new meaning with mobile technology. A new survey from Staples Advantage found employees seeking to maintain work-life balance are increasingly using tablet computers just about everywhere including in bed (78 percent), at a restaurant (30 percent) and even in the bathroom (35 percent. Ew.)

Almost 60 percent of survey respondents say they get more work done using a tablet, and more than than 40 percent claim the primary reason they bought a tablet was to stay connected with colleagues and clients. So consider the AMA study above and just keep telling yourself that even if your employees are playing Angry Birds in the bathroom, it’s paying off.

Speaking of monitoring your employees’ behaviour, if you’re worried that employees who work from home can’t be trusted, a new survey from The Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle should put your mind at ease. The survey found that employees who work at home are actually more honest than employees in the office.

According to the employers surveyed, 11 percent report ethics violations over the past two years by employees who work at home, but 36 percent say employees who work from the office had committed such violations, which included bribery and fraudulent expense reporting.

In announcing the results, Patricia Roberts, executive vice-president of strategic consulting at Jones Lang LaSalle, theorised that employees so value the perk of working from home that they are very careful not to jeopardise it by misbehaving.

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Published September 13, 2011 at 10:12 am (Updated September 13, 2011 at 10:12 am)

Survey: Web browsing can boost productivity

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