Academic journal article IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior

Cyberloafing: The Di(sguised)gital Way of Loafing on the Job

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior

Cyberloafing: The Di(sguised)gital Way of Loafing on the Job

Article excerpt


The ubiquitous presence of computing has undoubtedly changed not only the way we work today, but also the way people avoid and sabotage work. In today's age, the Internet serves as a mechanism to "communicate, transact, entertain, educate and improve the connectivity and productivity" (Scruby, 1999, p. 2). The Internet plays an extremely important role in ensuring the ease of performing multifarious transactions to businesses. This helps to reduce costs, shorten product cycle times, market products and services more effectively (Anandarajan et al., 2000). The Internet has its own repercussions and thus companies should deploy it to employees with caution, as it exposes employees to many counterproductive activities during work hours (Anandarajan and Simmers, 2004).

Cyberloafing (Polito, 1997) is a term used for employees who slack off excessively surfing the Internet during work hours for non-work related activities. It is also called cyberslacking (Greengard, 2000) which is wasting of time and company resources by entertaining oneself on the Internet instead of working (Marron, 2000). Some researchers call this "cyber deviance" (Vitak et al., 2011), "cyber-budging" (Mills et al., 2001) or a technologically mediated manifestation of procrastination wherein individuals use different web pages for their own purposes during the office hours. Certain examples of cyberloafing include online shopping (Eastin et al., 2007; Madden, 2009; and Andreassen et al., 2014), using personal social media sites (Henle and Blanchard, 2008) and playing video games (Madden, 2009; and Reinecke, 2009). Blogging and instant messaging were observed to be the most practiced activities, draining the man hours (Madden, 2009). Online gambling (Mills et al., 2001), pornography (Cooper et al., 2006), personal investing and online auctions (Pee et al., 2008) are alarming forms of cyberloafing. Employees in the organization use Internet for abusive behaviors including cybersex and online friendship (Griffiths, 2010). Cyberloafing costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in the United States annually. A study estimates that $759 bn is lost annually due to cyberloafing (Martin et al., 2010). A study in the United Kingdom on employee web surfing revealed that the cost estimates for lost productivity can cost the equivalent of $600 mn per year (Taylor, 2007).

Cyberloafing correlates with reduced workplace involvement (Liberman et al., 2011). A survey of 224 companies found that over 30% had fired workers for Internet misuse and over 60% had disciplined workers (Greenfield and Davis, 2002).

A study of a sample of 308 participants in North America self-reported the extent to which time online was related to procrastination. Internet procrastination was positively correlated with perceiving the Internet as entertaining, a relief from stress and paradoxically, as an important tool (Lavoie and Pychyl, 2001). A majority of workers participate in cyberloafing during the workday (Andreassen et al., 2014). According to a study in the US by the Saratoga institute in 2000, 56% of the Internet usage was not related to work (Greengard, 2000), and by 2003, 59% of the Internet was being used for non-work related matters (Griffiths, 2003). Cyberloafing or cyberslacking became the most common mode for employees to waste their work hours (Malachowski, 2005) and thus its alarming usage becomes a matter of disquiet (Griffiths, 2003). Literature points out that cyberloafing is also practiced by students in the classroom to use the internet for activities not related to the class without the purview of the teacher (Kalayci, 2010).

Unlike the earlier times, the admittance to the Internet has become easy today for the working individuals, so has their Internet usage tendency for personal relaxation and other manifestations which are not related to their work front. The work scenario today comprises virtual teams, flexible work arrangements and use of personal devices in work hours which have created ample opportunities for cyberloafing. …

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