If You're Reading This at Work …

| … you’re probably 9 percent more productive than your co-workers — unless you’re an internet addict. That’s according to new research out of the University of Melbourne, which found that Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB) improves productivity by giving internet-centric workers a chance to refocus their minds between tasks. The increase is startling; workers who spend as much as 20 percent of their office time leisure browsing actually get more work done than workers who don’t. How can you tell if you’re edging up to that 20 percent threshold? Rescue Time, for one. [%comments]


Awesome. The justification I've been looking for.

Rob Sharpe

The results of this study seem very similar to the results of any sort of break; the classic "smoke break" comes to mind. As long as the smoker knows they'll have time to smoke every hour or so they'll work diligently the remainder of the hour.


Yes! Justification. Thanks, Freakonomics, for improving my day and my productivity.

Sally LeRoy

Does the study account for variance in technical competence? I have to believe computers make people more productive. Computer savvy people would be more likely to use the computer for personal activity as well. I think this study is just saying that people that are comfortable with computers are more productive.


It's like michael scott says, they work more efficiently after [browsing/movie hour] because they need to in order to get their work done by the end of the day! (just joking)


my goal is for 80/20- i promise to be REAL productive during the 20 :)


Can I get a signed note to give to my boss?


20% is quite a bit of time though. 1 out of every 5 days being spent on the internet can't be increasing productivity that much.


Great philosophy, thanks Freakonomics!


The correlation between leisure browsing and productivity doesn't necessarily imply causation.

It could be the other way around: the most productive workers have more available time to browse the web, while the least productive ones are too busy trying to achieve their goals and don't have time to waste on the web.

Ambuj Saxena

I have written about the fallacies possibly committed by this study in my blog post: http://ambujsaxena.blogspot.com/2009/04/net-productivity.html


Causality or Correlation??

Matthew R.

Have you ever heard the saying that if you want something done quickly, give it to someone who's busy? I think we've all experienced situations where we actually do better work if we have less time. If we have too much time, we either fritter it away, or increase the scope of the project to monstrous proportions. Often we inflate work to fill available time. Thus, in many circumstances, having less time can help focus a person. It makes complete sense to me, which is why I always want to define productivity by tasks accomplished to standard, rather than hours logged at the work station. They are two very different measurements.


How productive is it to download a virus and put the entire network down for several days?

Note: I'm not saying that freakonomics, specifically, has security issues.


Couldn't it simply be that people with lively minds are both likelier to be productive and liklier to browse the net?



Bobby G

I sent this in an e-mail to my co-worker who said (before reading the article herself), "You just can't wait to read your Freakonomics, can you?"

Bob Grunt

The official paper of Dr Coker's WILB study has just been released here: www.deloosh.com.au/blog/

The piece on internet addiction, the other side of the research that wasn't really covered in the press, was fascinating. Apparently internet addiction isn't officially recognised as an addiction, but Coker finds indirect evidence that it is similar to alcoholism!


Reading at work... Nice post!

sudan gautam

Every employee would love to read this. How about printing this article and putting in organization's notice board? I would love to read the research in detail but the link is not working. Could you please fit it?