Meanwhile, Policies Prohibiting Work During the Surfday Found Unproductive

SAN JOSE, CAL. ( – More than 80 percent of respondents to a new LGI/Gallup poll admit they do “some” or “a lot” of work while at work, but almost all insist they never let business-related matters interfere with personal Web surfing at the office.

“When I come in at 8:30, I’m pretty much focused on surfing the Web for personal reasons,” says survey respondent Barth Biggs, an account representative at Harmony Photo Imaging in Glenville, Ohio. “Occasionally, yeah, I’ll switch over and do some business-related thing, but it’s just a breather, and I mostly do it during lunch.”

According to the survey, an overwhelming 86 percent of respondents say doing some work during the surfing day has no negative impact on their personal Web surfing. In fact, 48 percent say doing occasional work at work actually improves the quality of their personal surfing, and 28 percent also say it makes them happier and less stressed.

“There’s a common misconception that if you allow your employees to work anytime they want during the surfday, they will,” contends surf management consultant Neil Nariget. “The truth is, people won’t abuse that freedom. They’ll appreciate it, and as a result be more effective when emailing with friends, checking their portfolios, and hanging out on eBay.”

Clearly, employers are aware of the issue. More than 70 percent of respondents say their companies prohibit all but personal Web surfing while at the office. Many of those laboring under such policies, however, claim they are impossible to enforce.

“If it were up to my boss, I’d spend my whole day emailing jokes, shopping for travel bargains, and chatting it up on ICQ,” said one woman, an employee of a major pharmaceutical company who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “But nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to avoid doing some work. I mean, my colleagues sit right next to me. My customers know how to reach me via email. What am I supposed to do, ignore them all day?”

According to Sadie Wassoon, managing director of consulting firm LGI, the answer is no. “When companies allow employees to spend a few moments online each day to get work issues out of the way – things such as analyzing sales projections, planning a marketing campaign, or dealing with customer complaints – these employees are able to better focus on the demands of their personal lives,” she said.

In other survey findings:

¤ 82 percent of employees admit they send work-related emails while at work.
¤ 80 percent of employers say they have caught their employees surfing work-related Web sites.
¤ 28 percent of employees take precautionary measures to keep employers from detecting their work-related Internet use.
¤ In the area of inappropriate surfing, one in three workers say they spend 25 minutes or more each day using the Internet for work, usually at sites directly related to their duties.

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