It is all too common to stroll by an employee's desk and catch him/her browsing the Internet -- obviously, for personal use rather than business-related research. In fact, the American Management Association (AMA) discovered that 68% of businesses lose money and time on employees who are "Internet surfing."
Internet surfing is the use of work-provided internet access for personal enjoyment while maintaining the appearance of being productive. The trouble with Internet surfing, unfortunately, is that it comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Worse yet, it is typically carried out on software that businesses rely on, such as e-mail and web browsers.
The Five Most Common Forms Of Internet Surfing Are:
- Chat rooms/instant messaging
- E-mail correspondence to personal contacts
- Online gambling
- Online stock trading
- Web browsing, primarily to news and sports websites
Of course, not all Internet surfing starts intentionally. Often enough, employees log online to look up something business-related, but, through a series of "wiki moments," they find themselves viewing websites that stopped being work related several clicks ago. However, the bottom line is that Internet surfing is nothing but costly.
Now Read About This Study.
In a study conducted by surfControl, a web-filtering software maker, it was revealed that if 1,000 employees engage in personal web surfing for only one hour a day it would cost that organization up to $35 million a year.
How To Combat Internet Surfing Effectively.
The most obvious way to combat Internet surfing is to monitor Internet usage, but this can be tricky. This is why we suggest including Internet usage policies in your employee handbook. These policies should define which types of websites are considered inappropriate as well as address excessive Internet usage. Furthermore, the consequences for violating these policies should be clearly outlined. Consequences can range from docked pay to having computer privileges restricted.
If you do choose to monitor employee computer usage, be sure to consult with an attorney in order to avoid any legal risks relating to rights to privacy.
Executive Summary: As powerful a tool as the Internet is, especially for businesses, it is also a vehicle for distraction and procrastination. Everyday software, such as e-mail clients and web browsers, provide a temptation for employees to catch up on news or read about their favorite sports heroes.
In order to effectively combat Internet surfing, employers should take preventative measures by writing Internet usage policies into their employee handbooks. And, instead of monitoring the sites employees visit, employers should evaluate how much time employees spend online in order to better address concerns about productivity.
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