Surf While You Work: Is Personal Internet Use Interrupting Productivity On The Job?

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woman-internetAccording to a recent survey posted by salary.com, 69 percent of the 1,000 participants polled admitted to wasting time at work on a daily basis. This can include anything from water cooler talks, using social media on their personal mobile devices and also surfing the internet for personal reasons or interests on their work computer.

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Though it may prove a little difficult to blatantly spend work hours grocery shopping on freshdirect.com or catching up on the latest gossip on your favorite go to gossip web site, in a cubicle or private office, it definitely happens. Is personal internet usage during work hours a welcome break in the day or a potential set up for horrible work review and potential firing?

It all depends on where you work in my opinion.

I have never held a job and not utilized the internet for personal use at some point in the day. On days when I am extremely busy, I may rarely get a chance to check some of my favorite websites for current events, however, on slower days, you can rest assured I was making grocery lists, comparing online sales prices and also checking up on social media.

I’ve had my own office most of the time and worked for smaller companies and boutique law firms, my personal usage of the internet was rarely tracked. However, I have many colleagues and associates who not only have their personal internet usage monitored, they also lack access to some non-work related sites in an effort to maintain some sense of productivity in the workplace.

As reflected on salary.com, the various types of personal websites people visit most at work include:

- News sites at 37%

- Social Media at 14%

- Online Shopping at 12%

- Entertainment/Lifestyle at 8%

- Sports at 3%

- Travel at 2%

Additionally, the top time wasting websites include:

- Facebook at 15%

- Yahoo at 14%

- LinkedIn at 10 %

- Google+ at 8%

- Amazon at 6%

- ESPN at 2%

- YouTube at 2%

- Craigslist at 2% and Twitter at 2%

Though some companies may not have an issue with limited personal use of the internet during work hours, as an employee, you should be 100 percent familiar with your employer’s company policy regarding internet use. How much is too much? And more importantly, how are you being perceived if every time your boss walks past your cubicle or office, you are doing everything but working?

I am a major proponent of not wasting my time, so if (in my former life as an employee) I had some free time in between projects, I would use it for personal use. I would shop for groceries, plan a vacation, shop online and chat with friends. However, I eventually learned, and had to accept, that I am getting paid for my time and services and should make a better effort in allocating my time to future projects or ideas instead of looking for shoes.

You may view your personal internet usage as a much needed break of the daily monotony or as blatant disrespect to your company and its efforts, however, be prepared for any consequences that may arise from not putting 100 percent of your daily effort into your job.

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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