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Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB) makes workers more productive, says a University of Melbourne study

Workers who engage in ‘Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing’ (WILB) are more productive than those who don’t, according to Dr Brent Coker of the Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne. “People who do surf the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t,” he says. (n=300). Broadcast quality footage (approx 500mb+) of Dr Brent Coker talking about the study is available from: media.marcom.unimelb.edu.au/pub/newsroom/Coker/cokerb_mr_20090401.mov and an audio (MP3) file of this interview is also available for download at media.marcom.unimelb.edu.au/pub/newsroom/Coker/cokerb_mr_20090401.mp3
(Source: http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/5750/, April 2, 2009)

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Allen Sheaprd

I hope you watch Daniel Pink. Its not his whole speach but is good.

WILB helps one stumble upon new ideas and things that help keep us going. We have been taught enough to get us here – but not enough for the rest of the future becasue new ideas and invetions are out there. A little WILB breaks up the day.

Just keep it breif. It is a break not a job – IMO

Andre Goodfriend

It would be interesting to see a few more details of the study. From the short article and online interview it sounds like WILB is no more beneficial than a coffee break, chatting with one’s workmates, having a nap, or stepping outside. It’s not anything about WILB that is intrinsically beneficial, it’s the fact that it breaks the routine. In fact, the fact that 14% of the sample displayed addictive behavior, could argue against WILB not only because of the negative way in which it impacts their performance, but also because of the disruptive influence they may have on their colleagues — particularly if one is in an open plan office. For other types of breaks one has to step away from the work area, for WILB in an open plan office, one’s own leisure activity is impacting others (when one is browsing an interesting site in an open plan office, there is also a tendency to show the site to one’s neighbors).

Anyway, all that being said, I actually support WILB, and think (with no statistical evidence to back me up) that knowing how to use it recreationally increases ones comfort with using it professionally. One gets a better understanding of how to post to a website, how to share a calendar online, how to conduct research, how to express a point convincingly, how to carry out a transaction, and how to interact with people socially on a network. All of which can make one more proficient in one’s job — as long as computers are involved.

The Melbourne study is interesting, but I’d be interested in more info before relying on the statistic.

Dr D.C.Misra

Andre, all your points are very valuable and sound. But I do not what the official stand is in such matters.

Dr D.C.Misra