Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Organizational Benefits of Reducing Cyberslacking in the Workplace

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Organizational Benefits of Reducing Cyberslacking in the Workplace

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Cyberslacking describes the activities involved in wasting time on the internet while people are supposedly at work. Activities include visiting pornographic sites and news sites, shopping, stock trading, vacation planning, gambling, and job searching. Currently, 122 million people have Internet access at work, and the number is rising. As unrestricted internet use increases, managers are faced with a double-edged sword. On the one hand, employees can use the internet to facilitate job-related duties, but those same employees can, on the other hand, easily become distracted by the many available and tempting web pages. This paper will define cyberslacking, discuss Internet abuse, define Internet addiction, describe the reasons for concern, delineate the costs to organizations, and describe what managers can do to limit cyberslacking in their organizations.

INTRODUCTION

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." Aristotle

You walk by employees' desks and see them furiously typing away, apparently hard at work. In reality, they may be trading stocks or e-mailing jokes to friends (Fertell, 2002). A new generation of cyberslacking workers are multishirking by spending hours a day frittering away time online. As e-mail and high-speed Internet access have become standard-issue office equipment, rampant abuse of computers in the workplace is making the water cooler look like a font of productivity. For bosses, cyberslacking is becoming a pervasive and perplexing problem in the new wired workplace. With the Internet morphing into the virtual Mall of America, day trading, vacation planning, and hard-core porn are all just a click away. From game sites like mplayer.com where usage surges during the lunch hour, to online retailers like Amazon.com, which experience their heaviest traffic during the workday, the message is plain: people who surf prefer to do it at work (Naughton, 1999).

Other realistic examples of how employees are using the company's computer might include Alice and Sally in accounting posting defamatory messages about another employee on the company's electronic bulletin. Meanwhile, Bill, the food and beverage manager, is logged on to an online chat room and is trying to get a date with a woman he met there. The boss might even purchase online stocks, books, and gifts for friends and family. On the surface these activities may seem harmless, but, at a minimum, they cause losses in productivity and slow down a company's computer system. At worst, they can result in legal action (Mills, et.al., 2001). This paper will define cyberslacking, discuss Internet abuse, define Internet Addiction, describe the reasons for concern, delineate the costs to organizations, and describe what managers can do to limit cyberslacking in their organizations.

DEFINITION

"I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them." Isaac Asimov

Cyberslacking involves visiting pornographic sites and news sites, shopping, stock trading, vacation planning, gaming, chatting or engaging in any general non-business Internet activity on company time using company resources In addition, this practice includes looking for a new job on the internet, comparing present salaries and working conditions with that available elsewhere purely as a matter of curiosity, doing homework on company time, and exchanging e-mail with friends and family(Block, 2001). "Cyberslacking," "cyberloafing," and "cyberbludging" are terms used to describe the activities involved in wasting time on the internet while people are supposedly at work (Mills, et.al., 2001). Over the past three years, several organizations such as The New York Times, Rolls Royce and Xerox have fired workers for abusing computer resources. If employees are using the Internet for non-work related purposes, then this results in reduced productivity and ultimate loss in profits. On average, workers browse the Internet more at the office than at home because of the presence of proxy settings on their PCs, which allow for full-time connectivity. …

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