Do you find yourself scrolling on social media or responding to personal emails during working hours?
Well, you might not be aware that you’re unknowingly practicing “Cyberloafing”, a term coined by the corporate world in recent years.
Cyberloafing, in simple words, is when an employee is using the internet connection at the workplace for reasons other than work.
This includes scrolling on social media, watching YouTube videos, taking Buzzfeed quizzes, ordering items online, or even responding to personal emails.
While a lot of you may argue that it is often done during breaks or when you’re exhausted by a certain task given to you, many employers think otherwise.
Cyberloafing is often looked at as a billion-dollar pastime which again has its own pros and cons, depending upon whose perspective we’re seeing it from.
Rise of Cyberloafing in Recent Years
The world is a global village, all thanks to the advent of the internet. We rarely find anything which can be operated without the use of the internet.
With almost everything available online, it’s now a common tendency to surf the net in case you want anything. Be it socializing, finding new information, booking your travel, and so on and so forth.
This is one of the major reasons for increased cyberloafing in recent years. Along with this, the outbreak of the virus and the entry of pandemic culture have changed the way we perceive and practice our day-to-day work.
People are now cyberloafing more than usual, as there is no one to monitor what they’re doing while working from home.
Additionally, upskilling, internet addiction, the urge to post everything on social media, and google searches for minor things have also led to an increase in cyberloafing.
Reasons Behind Cyberloafing
The answer to the above question is purely subjective in nature. However, there are some common reasons which lead to cyberloafing at work. Let’s have a quick glance at them:
#1. Mental health breaks
One of the most common reasons given by employees is that they need to take a break from work every now and then to refresh their minds.
#2. Competitive tasks
Difficult tasks often consume a lot of mental effort from the employees, and taking short bouts of breaks has shown an increase in the productivity levels of the employees, as it reduces burnout and stress.
#3. Non-competent role
If an employee is given a task and a role that is not challenging enough for them, there’s a possibility they’ll push away the tasks to complete for a later time and end up spending half of the work hours on non-work-related internet activity.
Often, employees experience boredom due to the same mundane activities at work. This can cause them to look up to doing anything apart from work to keep them occupied.
Naturally, diverting focus to something entertaining is a natural response to boredom.
#5. Internet addiction
Perhaps the biggest downside of the internet, you will find a lot of people addicted to it because of the vast possibilities.
Also, social media can put a lot of peer pressure, and to keep up with this, many employees tend to embrace the ‘reel’ life to gain satisfaction and validation from their followers.
This practice can be addictive and can affect the productivity of the workplace as well.
Ostracism means “exclusion from society or group”, employees seek refuge on the internet and social media when they feel excluded and lonely at work from their team members or peers.
A tangible positive, a lot of employees are now enrolled in online lectures offered by top companies like LinkedIn, Udemy, Coursera, and many more.
Downsides of Cyberloafing for an Organization
According to researchers at the University of Nevada, the corporate world faces a loss of $85 billion every year because of the time lost through cyberloafing. It’s considered to be one of the biggest reasons for killing productivity at work.
If not controlled, cyberloafing also consumes a lot of time of an employee, thereby leaving less time on their hands to finish the tasks given to them in the stipulated time.
Some of the other major downsides that can affect your business are:
- Data and privacy breaches
- Entry of malware and viruses into company systems
- Choked bandwidth
- Work inefficiency
- Unresponsiveness during working hours
- Usage of adult sites at work
- Data leaks
- Identity thefts
Drawing attention to the statistics, 36% of millennials and Gen Z spend more than 2 hours per workday using the internet for their personal needs. This means if you have employees who’re of a younger age group, the possibility of cyberloafing is higher.
How to Identify if an Employee is Cyberloafing?
There’s no clear way to identify if your employees are cyberloafing, but some of the below reasons can be an indication:
- They’re not submitting work on time
- Customer queries go unanswered for a long period
- Your employee is constantly checking their phone during meetings
- They’re distracted at work
Also, if your employees post an update on social media during working hours, that can be another indication.
Tips to Manage Cyberloafing
One of the most important things to remember as an employer is that you have to get to the roots of the problem rather than addressing it at the surface level only.
In my opinion, it’s essential to identify and find out why employees are turning to cyberloafing at work.
The aim behind this exercise is to showcase that you’re a “Pro Employer” and not against them at any level. This will help you tackle the problem in a very friendly and peaceful manner.
You can also expect their support for the solutions you put forth on the table. Coming back to the problem, here are 3 brilliant ways you can adopt to manage cyberloafing.
#1. Define policies
It’s advisable to run a dipstick survey to identify and understand the core reasons behind cyberloafing. Based on the report, you can draft policies regarding internet usage for personal use at your workplace.
Let your employees know when, where and what things are allowed during working hours. Educate your employees and explain the reason behind this step taken by the organization.
This will help you increase the adoption rate of the policy.
#2. Organizational sanctions
It’s very important for you to set ground rules with the employees and let them know your expectations. You must clearly define which social media sites refrain from usage and why following the rules are important.
Depending upon the need, let your employees know the consequences in case these rules are broken.
#3. Monitoring software
There’s a variety of software available in the market which you can use to monitor what your employees are up to. It helps you assign tasks and increase productivity, especially if your employees are working in a remote environment.
You can download detailed reports of each employee and identify gaps, if any. Most of the solutions have a lot more to offer, which we will discuss more in this post.
Now that we’re aware of what exactly cyberloafing is and how to manage it let’s check out some of the best tools that’ll help you prevent it seamlessly and keep every employee in check.
Some of the many amazing features of this tool include the following:
- Real-time screenshots of employee activities
- URL tracking
- Employee productivity
- GPS tracking
- Job management
- Project tracker
- Time clock app
- 30+ integrated apps at the workplace
Additionally, it lets you keep a tab on employee payroll, scheduling, invoices, and employee productivity using this tool. You can view and manage everything from one single dashboard to make things convenient.
DeskTime is a great tracking solution for employees and freelancers, it claims to provide a 30% productivity boost when you use their ultimate time tracker tool.
DeskTime is credible in the market for:
- Document title tracking
- Pomodoro timer
- Cost calculation
- Shift Scheduling
- Private time option
- Offline time tracking
Like other tools out there, it also offers you screenshots and URL tracking via the desktop and mobile app. You can schedule a live one-on-one demo and opt for a free trial before committing to the paid version.
Time Doctor is employee-friendly and motivates the team to go beyond their call of duty by providing them with productivity insights.
This tool aims to help managers by informing them where the team needs help in a particular task/project assigned to them. Also, your employees can check out the statistics, which will help them improve their daily functioning to a more positively-timed approach.
Notably, it provides you with 60+ app integrations, GDPR and HIPAA compliance, 24 hours multilingual customer service, 99% uptime SLA, custom user roles, and permission settings.
All in all, this tool will help you cover remote, hybrid, and outsourced work environments like a pro.
RescueTime has been awarded as PC Mag Editor’s Choice with a whopping 5-star rating for a reason.
This awesome tool rescues your employees from procrastination by using the following tricks:
- Creates a personalized focus goal – just for them
- Provides smart coaching to keep them on track
- Helps them trigger a “Focus session,” which temporarily blocks sites that impact their focus
- Gives them insights into which apps pull them away from work
- Employees can also utilize the automatic distraction and time-blocking feature
The list doesn’t end here, your employees can achieve razor-sharp focus by understanding their daily reports from the dashboard.
With over 2 million users and 14 years in business, I’d say you really need to try RescueTime to take back control of your workplace.
Toggl is probably one of the best and most widely-used tools to boost employee performance. Don’t believe me? Ask Amazon, Ogilvy, Uber, LinkedIn, and many other companies that regularly use Toggl to help their employees elevate their daily work.
You can improve your employee’s accountability, record billable hours, and also ensure that project deadline are met without your employees’ feeling burnout.
This tool is super easy and intuitive to use, which further adds to its likeability of it.
The recent updates also include creating effective work schedules and a system for simplifying and automating the hiring process, which will help you in filtration, assessments, and candidate screenings.
While most employers prefer tools that manage cyberloafing, it’s also important to know that there is a thin line between taking a healthy mental break and procrastination, and these two can be misjudged at times.
Most of the tools mentioned above can take screenshots and gather locations from time to time to track the data.
This may be perceived as a negative activity and a pry into employees’ trust and daily life. This is exactly why it’s very important to keep your employees informed about these tools and let me know the activities that are going to be monitored.
As an employer, it becomes your responsibility to ensure that the employees are happy at work and fully aware of what they signed up for.
Keeping that aside, the above tools do a phenomenal job of preventing cyberloafing and handing you back the productivity you love in your workplace.
Next, check out these amazing employee gifting platforms to maintain a happy workplace.