Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Cyberslacking at Work

Just yesterday Spark News discussed slacking at work. Specifically, how much time off is too much. One of the main components of that article was that as an employee working for a company you need to be professional. This entails a number of things from being reliable, dressing properly, engaging in productive conversations and of course getting your work done. All of the other aspects are notably important, but it’s clear and obvious that getting your work done, and getting it done right, is most important. However, it can be difficult to get your work done on-time and at top-notch quality if you are constantly cyberslacking on the job.

By no means is the term “cyberslacking” a new one. In fact, it was first used back in 1999 when more and more companies started integrating computer and internet use into their business. Cyberslacking simply refers to when an employee uses their company and internet for personal use while giving off the impression that they are hard at work. A lot of employees, in fact most, will try to say that they don’t ever slack off at work and use the internet for personal use. Now, I’m not saying I’m someone with great insight or knowledge on the habits of employees, but I think it’s safe to say that if you are sitting in front of a computer all day with the internet at your grasp, you’re going to stray from your work a little bit. It’s just fact.

We want to check our emails, check up on our online banking, read the news or *gasp* check our Facebook. These are all considered “non-productive” uses of our company’s internet (and time) and certainly take time away from the work we have. On the other hand, counter-productive use of the internet is when employees use the company computer or network to send discriminatory emails or emails that are chock-full of sexual harassment no-nos. These are far worse than non-productive uses and should certainly be dealt with swiftly.

So when does cyberslacking start to become a problem rather than just a known-fact that managers and employers must cope with. It’s virtually impossible for employers to ban their employees from using the internet for any personal use. Of course, sites can be blocked and certain measures can be taken, but if an employer is too heavy on the blocking it can create resentment and an unhealthy work environment for their workers. On the other hand, if they don’t do anything to prevent cyberslacking their employees may prove to be less and less productive and their work may slide. You can see how difficult it is to combat this when studies show that 80 to 85 percent of employees use their computer for personal use.

Employers have their ways, though. Cyber spying on employees is not uncommon and is an easy way to see what your employees are doing on their computers, what they are looking at and how often they cyberslack. In fact, a “2001 American Management Association survey reported that 36 percent of employers review files on work computers, 47 percent review email and 63 percent monitor Internet connections.” That’s a good chunk of employers checking up on their employees. While some may want to crush it with an iron fist, a lot of recent studies have shown that cyberslacking is actually good for the work environment. What? If you think about it, it kind of makes sense. If you are a hard worker and are intensely slaving away to get your work done, you deserve some time in the day for yourself, right?

The kicker is how much time. That’s when being professional comes into play. If you worked extra hard on getting a report finished, it’s OK for you to go to your email and check up on what new messages you’ve received. Checking up on your Facebook occasionally, can offer a short mental break from your intense work. Of course, the emphasis is on occasional. A lot of people tend to get distracted easily and can get lost on the internet for 20 to 30 minutes. At work, that’s just too much.

I guess the compromise for cyberslacking is making sure you are putting your work first. Checking other sites here and there for small increments at a time is generally frowned upon, but can be easily accepted. On the other hand, checking your Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! News feed every hour for 15-20 minutes at a time is really inappropriate. Picking up on this bad habit can land you a spot in the unemployment line. So, my advice to you is to keep your cyberslacking at bay and make sure you are always keeping it professional. Besides, constantly checking over your shoulder or feeling your heart skip a beat or two when your manager catches you on Facebook aren’t really great experiences. So check yourself.

: News Wise
IMAGE: Courtesy of A Wonderful Blog

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter

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