||any companies think the Internet
is a major distraction for office
|workers and limit employee
Internet use during work time. For example my
wife's company only allows employees to use the
Internet for personal reasons outside work hours,
and anyone who doesn't need access for their job
doesn't get it.
However, most companies tend to
enforce Internet policies that combat misuse,
such as downloading pornography, or excessive use
of file sharing utilities like Napster. These
kinds of policies are understandable both for
legal and practical reasons, after all, even a T1
connection is going to get pretty slow with
hundreds of workers downloading the latest
Employers generally consider time to be money
- every hour not spent working is an hour that an
employer is paying employees money for nothing.
There's no denying that the Internet can be a
huge waste of time. I can sometimes spend hours
on end surfing from one website to the next
without really accomplishing anything, although
this tends to be at home rather than in the
office - honestly. Bu3 occasionally random
surfing will turn up something that is of
particular relevance even though I wasn't
specifically looking for it at the time.
Now, the odd random find aside, most of us
will find little that's relevant to our work when
we're idly wandering around the web during office
hours, but contentious as it may be, I'm not
entirely convinced that it's such a bad thing.
A full day sifting in front of a computer in
an office can be a mind-numbing experience, quite
literally. Most people will tell you that the
longer they spend working at a set task, the less
focused they become and ultimately productivity
|will suffer as a result. That's
not to suggest that spending hours surfing the
Internet is good for productivity, because it
quite obviously isn't But, taking a few minutes
break from the grind to cast your eye over your
favourite website may stop you getting bogged
down and make you more productive when you fire
up that spreadsheet or word processor again.
shopping could also be more of a blessing than a
curse for companies. Whether it's ordering the
latest DVD on your list or booking your holiday,
you may waste less time doing it from your
computer than trying to squeeze in a visit to the
shops during your lunch hour and coming back to
work late as a result.
But there's one thing that a bit of personal
web surfing can do better than anything else, and
that's raise team morale. Believe it or not,
we're pretty busy here at PCW and getting the
magazine out every month can be a difficult and
With a heavy workload and tight deadlines it's
easy to get snowed under and
|sometimes a bit
of a break and some light relief is exactly what we need
to get back on track. This kind of distraction usually
comes in the form of an amusing website one of the team
has stumbled across.
It's common to see most of the PCW
team huddled around a single computer watching the latest
bit of humorous web wizardry. We'll watch, laugh about
it, chat for a few minutes and then go back to our
respective desks feeling a bit better and throw ourselves
back into our work.
The office favourite at the moment seems to be www.eugenemirman.com.
This is a truly bizarre site where you'll find a very
strange-looking child singing (and I use the word very
broadly) various well-known songs. It doesn't seem to
matter how stressed or down anyone on the team is, after
a few verses from Eugene the laughter starts to flow.
Another one that brings a smile to the team is www.thepolosofdeath.com,
a downloadable movie starring Boba Fett and some rather
Of course, I'm willing to accept that Internet access
is open to abuse, but then so is almost anything else in
an office. Telephones, stationery and even time keeping
can all be abused by employees and result in relative
loss of revenue to the company. But I think being too
strict with Internet access could do more harm than good.
After all, being able to fire off a quick email to a
friend in work time is preferable to phoning him for half
We're not robots and even the most dedicated worker
can get bored and become less productive, and the
Internet can inject a bit of relief and some team bonding
into an average day in the office.
So, strange as it may sound, a few wasted hours a week
could in fact equate to a more rather than less