Cyberslacking: Definition & Impact on Workplace Productivity

Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian is a real estate investor, MBA, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

Technological distractions in the workplace can negatively impact an organization's productivity and bottom line. In this lesson, we will discuss cyberslacking and how countermeasures can help reduce incidents in the workplace.

What is Cyberslacking?

Craig is the owner and manager of a small business with 25 full-time employees. As the company has grown, Craig has noticed that overall productivity is lower than he would have expected while Internet bandwidth usage has risen exponentially. Craig hasn't been working closely with every new employee and he suspects that employee cyberslacking may play a role in the surprising productivity rate. Let's take a look at cyberslacking and what options Craig has for correcting this problem in his business.

Cyberslacking refers to employees becoming distracted by technology in the workplace, usually due to personal, non-work-related Internet usage. Those who work at a computer may use company time and equipment for online shopping, playing games, accessing inappropriate videos, or using social media websites to communicate with friends. Additionally, employees with smartphones in the workplace may engage in the same type of behavior along with sending personal text messages or checking personal email on work time.

So how does cyberslacking impact an organization's productivity and bottom line? If an employee is paid hourly and he spends hours cyberslacking, his employer ultimately pays for the employee to avoid work. This is an immediate financial loss to the organization. If a salaried employee is distracted by technology in the workplace for several hours a week, she may put in additional work hours to compensate for the time wasted, which not only hurts productivity but the employee's stress level and work-life balance. If an employee's work time is billed to an outside client and he spends a portion of that time cyberslacking, the client is essentially being overcharged for services rendered. If the client were to find out that he was being ripped off, he could ultimately terminate his contract with the company and refuse to do business with them in the future. If the client tells others of his bad experience with the company, this could even result in bad publicity for the organization. Ultimately, cyberslacking can result in waste of time and resources and loss of revenue. In 2012, it was reported in the media that cyberslacking may be costing businesses worldwide over $600 billion annually.

Cyberslacking Countermeasures

When Craig decides to take action to reduce cyberslacking in his workplace, he should consider not only what options are available but how they are to be implemented. As with any business decision, the simplest and most efficient plan might provide the best solution to the problem. Cyberslacking countermeasures are specific tools and policies that deter employees from wasting organization time, equipment, or other resources due to technological distractions. Craig should keep in mind that some of his employees need to use company computers and Internet access to perform their job duties. One employee interacts with customers via social media. Another employee must access vendor websites to purchase supplies for the business. What countermeasures will best help Craig prevent cyberslacking in his workplace?

Software and Internet Security Solutions

In organizations in which cyberslacking involves web browsing on company computers, firewalls and website monitoring or blocking software can be installed on each machine to prevent the practice. A firewall is a common component of most organizations web security systems and it can be adjusted to meet the specific needs of an organization. Some companies monitor the web browsing habits of their employees in the workplace via special software that provides statistics about which websites are accessed at work, who accessed them and for what length of time. Additionally, some organizations may use software which blocks access to a list of unapproved websites in the workplace. (Because content on the Internet changes so rapidly, the list of blocked websites should be regularly reviewed and updated.)

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