You’re going to finish reading that company memo. And you’re going to send those very important emails. It’s going to be an extremely productive day… but first you need to see if anyone retweeted you. And then just double-check to make sure your college roommate hasn’t written you back yet on Facebook. And then… and then… it’s 11 a.m. and you’re pretty sure you just got paid for looking at listicles about the world’s most adorable inter-species friendships for two hours.
According to Forbes, 64 percent of employees visit non-work websites every day, while 29 percent waste one to two hours of work each week. They’re not the worst procrastination culprits, though, since 21 percent waste two to five hours, eight percent waste six to 10 hours, and a comically unproductive three percent waste more than 10 hours each week.
The site most likely to make employees forget about that stack of papers on their desk: Tumblr.
Since the site serves as a platform for engaged, enthusiastic digital communities, it seems people who use Tumblr can’t resist its siren song during their working hours. The next most popular website to browse on the clock is Facebook, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever worked in an office. Other culprits include Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, so access to social media is certainly a time suck.
In addition to looking at which sites are most often used as distractions from meaningless toil, Forbes also surveyed workers to find out why they wasted time. 34 percent of employees said not being challenged was the main reason they slipped into unproductive habits, while 30 percent said they were unsatisfied with their work and 23 percent said they were straight-up bored. Disturbingly, 25 percent of adults admitted to looking at pornographic material on a computer at work. And that’s just who admitted to it.
This might seem like whining, and yes, there are many, many boring jobs that people need to do in order to keep a functional society operating. But 32 percent cited a lack of incentive as their impetus into Internet dillydallying, so here’s a thought: This situation requires making people want to be less lazy at their work. If the worker is truly disposable, employers could curtail this type of behavior by simply firing people more frequently for their digital malfeasance. If it is not cost-efficient to continually fire people and train new ones, however, employers are not likely to adopt draconian methods to cut down on this time-wasting. Also, since many employees have access to their personal mobile devices, it would be hard to enforce a no-personal Internet policy, if not impossible in certain workspaces.
The main offending group of Internet-obsessed workers were, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Millennials. While that’s fodder for another three billion op-eds about why the youth of today are the worst, it’s also a sign that this is something employers are going to see more of, since whatever generation will follow the Millennial and take up the yoke as everyone’s least favorite most entitled disaster babies is going to be even more accustomed to constant connection and even less likely to separate themselves from their personal devices and eschew updating their social networks than those of us who fall under the Millennial umbrella.
Since the ability to distract oneself from one’s profound alienation from labor is going to get even easier as wearable technologies and toting around multiple personal electronic devices becomes even more mainstream than it is now, employers are going to have to either accept that their workers are going to be Instagramming their lunch before they file those reports, or they’re going to have to incentivize people away from this kind of behavior.
[Photo credit: Phil Gradwell, Flickr]