If you came across this article while browsing the internet at work, it may be a sign of your productivity. No, seriously. According to a new study, sneakily scrolling through social media or covertly shopping for a new pair of sandals during work hours may be a sign that you’re bored at work, and this is how you respond.
The research, published in Computers in Human Behavior, refers to this at-work web browsing as “cyberloafing” (which to me sounds more like livestreaming someone eating a baguette) and says that it shouldn’t have the bad rap it currently does.
“My interest started with the idea of workplace boredom,” Dr. Shani Pindek, a psychologist and coauthor of the research, told PsyPost. “The reasons and consequences for this boredom are not well-understood. For example, how bad is it, really, for someone to be bored on their jobs? Are there easy ways to deal with boredom on the job that would negate harmful effects?”
The researchers surveyed 463 noninstructional university personnel and found that those who reported having a relatively light workload were more likely to indicate that they felt bored at their job and in turn got mentally sluggish during the day, which resulted in more cyberloafing at work.
“Cyberloafing is a rather natural response to workplace boredom and it is different from other (more harmful) forms of counterproductive work behaviours,” Pindek told PsyPost. “Cyberloafing happens more when the workload is low and in many cases it may not [be] harmful to the work. Just make sure not to overdo it!”
Of course, it should go without saying that using the internet for personal activities at work could potentially be a threat to your own cybersecurity, and using too much work time on personal recreational internet use will impact your productivity. But a few minutes here and there? It’s not really a problem.
Not only that, but Pindek told PsyPost that her team has also done research that has shown that cyberloafing can be an effective form of stress relief in the workplace.
“Under certain stressful situations, engaging in cyberloafing partially buffered the negative effects of workplace stress,” Pindek added. “This upcoming study shows that cyberloafing is a good way of relieving some work stress.”
So, there you go — if you’re reading this during work, you (hopefully) learned something and are less stressed than when you clicked on this article. You’re welcome.