Companies worry a lot about lost productivity. Some spend millions on software to block employees from using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or online shopping. A recent study questions this approach. In fact, a little surfing seems to increase productivity.

In a recent study, Dr. Brent Coker (Department of Management and Marketing, University of Mebourne), concluded that workers who engage in moderate amounts of “Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing” (WILB) were actually more productive. Why? He argues that WILBs provide short breaks that improve concentration.

These findings are much like research on having a moderate amount of alcohol daily; this type of drinking has been found to have health benefits. Of course, the key word here is moderation. Dr. Coker warns that Internet addiction is a real threat, potentially affecting as many as 14% of Australian Internet users.

You can listen to an interview about this study with Dr. Coker here.

Surfing . . . it's a good metaphor. Beware the slippery slope of self-deception. Riding a wave takes skill. In the case of Internet surfing, we need self-regulatory skills. The key is short breaks in moderation to improve concentration, not deep online flow experiences.

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