Well it’s officially summer – purveyor of fun in the sun, snow cones, and vacation. Oh, and the summer workday slump. Have you found yourself perusing more pop news sites, taking more Buzzfeed quizzes, and streaming the World Cup behind your Excel spreadsheets?
Turns out, you’re not the only one. In his Management Today blog, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic sites some pretty interesting statistics about online leisure activity and work: “A recent survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research asked people a very simple question: ‘What are you not doing when you are online?’ The most common answer, by far, was ‘working’ – 35%, compared with 15% for ‘watching TV’, 12% for ‘sleeping’, and 4% for ‘relaxing and thinking’.”
“If this is true,” he continues, regarding the 35% who would be working, “there are two potential implications. The first is that people are a lot less productive than they could be…The second – alternative – explanation is that most employees are spending more time at work than needed.”
So we get to choose between the possibilities that work suffers – imagine the benefits of a 35% increase in productivity – or leisure time suffers.
“Indeed, if online leisure time does not harm productivity, then why pay people to spend that time at work?” says Chamorro-Premuzic.
Unfortunately, there may be a more serious issue underlying our online leisure habits. “Online leisure time makes work – or at least being at work – less boring. So, ironically, the very activity that serves as a coping mechanism for the underlying boringness of work keeps them at the job for longer than needed,” says Chamorro-Premuzic.
So maybe we should start asking ourselves, is our newly acquired Facebook addiction a result of a summer slump or a bored cry for help?