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Are office employees distracted by the internet?

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Business leaders have a difficult task in the office – making sure employees work to the optimum level of productivity, but without resorting to micro-management and risking team morale.

Occasionally staff members may down tools while in the office, taking an unscheduled break or surf the internet for their own leisure – but is this always a bad thing?

Employers need to balance the pros and cons of intervention, deciding where and when they need to step in and ask employees to get back to work.

In the internet age, getting the balance right can be all-important to employers and line managers, as the web can be a great business asset but sometimes an inhibitor to productive work.

Research conducted by JobsCentral suggests three in four employees surf websites that are not work related during office hours, despite being against company policy.

As reported by Today Online, 45.6 per cent of those surveyed spend up to an hour each day on non-work-related websites, while 26.7 per cent ‘waste’ between one and three hours.

Employers may have mixed views about intervening at this point – particularly if staff are working flat out for the rest of the day and hitting their targets.

But they should definitely consider having words with the 1.4 per cent who admitted to spending more than five hours on non-work websites each day.

How can they possibly be providing sufficient value to the company if they are so distracted?

Based upon the JobsCentral findings, those employees who do spend much of their day on unauthorised web surfing may be paying the penalty in terms of stunted career progression.

The survey highlighted a correlation between employee salaries and the amount of time they spend using the internet without permission.

And this suggests that those with a stronger work ethic are moving up the jobs ladder at a faster rate – as one would expect.

If businesses are spending significant sums on shared office space, equipment and employees – they need to make sure they see a tangible return on investment.

In order to keep investing and achieving growth, it is crucial to ensure the company gets its money’s worth from their staff members.

But sometimes, managers may be better off giving their teams a little leeway, rather than coming on strong over issues such as personal internet usage.

It all depends on the extent of the misdemeanour – each individual case is different, and blanket usage policies rarely work.

In many cases, allowing workers some time to use the web freely can ensure they are happy and motivated in their jobs and not tempted to seek another role elsewhere.

This can save money in the long run, by keeping hold of expertise and saving on recruitment and training costs.

There is a balance to be struck between being officious and too lax on rule enforcement – knowing where to draw the line is the difficult part.