Internet breaks boost worker productivity, study says

Internet breaks boost worker productivity, study says

Banning your team members from the Internet might backfire
Jul 17, 2008
By staff

The Web provides an endless source of information—and a vast opportunity to waste time. It's no wonder that businesses, including many veterinary practices, are inclined to restrict workers' Internet use. Employment law firm Peninsula reports that 70 percent of companies in the United Kingdom prohibit workers from visiting social-networking sites like Facebook.

However, a recent study shows that this effort to improve productivity may actually stifle it. In the study, funded by PopCap Games, a Goldsmiths University psychologist oversaw psychometric trials on a cross-section of U.K. businesses to compare how different types of online breaks affected workers' performance. The conclusion? Taking a 10-minute break to surf the Internet reduces stress and sharpens the mind, resulting in increased morale and company profits. Here are the top five most beneficial Web-based breaks, according to the study:

1. Puzzles and games

2. Social networking and personal e-mails

3. Shopping

4. General surfing

5. Life administration, such as banking

What does this all mean for you? While it probably isn't appropriate to offer your team members unlimited Internet access, it wouldn't hurt—and it could help—to give them a chance to go online during breaks, for instance. You could even encourage them to visit sites that are fun and work-related. Whatever you decide, it's a good idea to outline your practice's Internet-use policy so all your team members clearly understand your expectations.