Can you recall before the advent of the internet, and this is still true today in many public service locations, how you could walk into a workplace & spot at least 1/2 of the employees reading a newspaper or standing by the water-cooler in idle chatter?
Yes folks, before the internet came to be, companies already had productivity issues! All the internet did, as with every other positive aspect it also brought about, was accelerate what was already right or worng about our organizations.
The great debate is on.. and every man and his dog has an opinion, so let me share with you my own. The internet, like anything else in life, is only a distraction in the workplace if your organization lacks the disciplined effort to engage it’s key-stakeholders in the activities required for both employee & employer to succeed. The fact is that the internet is a significant & key enabler of innovation, including finding new ways to become more productive by sharing best practices. But don’t take just my word for it, let’s explore the messaging that’s prevelant out there today.
Surprise: Internet monitoring reduces Internet use (hyperlinked)
And if you declare a police state, putting armed officers on every street corner you’ll reduce crime. But is that what you really wanted? What’s your objective? To have people use the internet less or for them to be more produce more work that drives desirable results? If the latter is your choice, then focus on getting your team on-board with a sound game-plan for achieving success. Give them the skills, knowhow, resources & effective communication strategies that will keep them highly engaged, motivated & productive. The internet isn’t the real issue.. it’s more than likely that you’re just not doing a great job of motivating people to do the right things at the right time required to achieve success.
Social networking at work leads to productivity loss (hyperlinked)
So I guess when I last connected to someone on LinkedIn, which in turn resulted in a transaction where I was engaged to perform a key (remunerated) project, that wasn’t productive? Or when I tweeted a question about what best product / service to use in order to execute on a particular task.. and I received valuable feedback that reduced the chance of my wasting time on a product that someone else had already deemed poor.. I wasn’t really being productive? Social networking at work can only lead to productivity loss if your people aren’t focused & engaged, or don’t have the skill set / knowhow to leverage social networking to their benefit.
To Lee Fayer, and others alike who make claims that “social networking costs 14 billion pounds a year in lost work time”, I would say that you’re just looking for excuses to cover up ineffective people management & engagement. For the record, let me say that if your people are spending more than 1h per day on the likes of Facebook when “they should be working” (and this phrase is key), then you’ve got a management, motivation and or engagement issue.. and not an internet usage issue.
The sciences of biology & psychiatry prove that human beings need recovery breaks intermingled with intense work segments in order to maximize their effectiveness & productivity. It’s a proven fact that when you allow people to perform completely unrelated tasks in-between work-tasks, they increase their focus and output as a consequence of reaching a higher state of concentration & throughput immediately following their break.
Dr. Brent Coker’s work entitled “Freedom to surf: workers more productive if allowed to use the internet for leisure” is more than just common sense, it can also be proven by the practical nature of the following factual diagram brought to us by our friends at WorkMeter.
Because you can’t manage what you can’t measure
As this graph shows, when a control element is introduced there is a natural tendency for reduced activity. Yet when the appropriate effective management tools, engagement principles & strategic initiative motivate a workforce, what you begin to witness is true productivity (driving company results) which can actually supersede previous levels of “activity”.
What are you focusing on these days? Activity which might not be directly contributing to desired results, or productivity by using the right empowerment & engagement principles that guarantee your team get’s on-board with your strategic plan?