Online goof-off time during the workday can boost productivity, says study

Tell your boss the University of Melbourne says it's probably a good thing for you to hang out on Facebook (or in our comments threads!) today. A study released on Thursday found that people who spend part of their workday surfing the fun stuff online are actually more productive than employees whose networks (or habits) are too buttoned-down.

The survey by the Department of Management and Marketing examined the productivity and habits of 300 workers, 70% of whom said they spend at least some time each day engaging in "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing" (news, YouTube, social networking, shopping and the like). The study found that workers who spent some amount of time doing so -- up to around 20% of their day -- displayed as much as 9% greater productivity.

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Project lead Dr. Brent Coker ascribes the boost to what most of us would call a reset; the change of focus allows the brain to re-establish concentration after its natural dip at the 20-minute mark of any project. Bad news, though, for the compulsive types among us; about 14% of those surveyed can't moderate their Internet use to reasonable amounts of time, and at-work access for them is actually bad for productivity.

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