Cyberloafing: The Guilty Pleasure


“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

― Mark Twain


We all love having fun, don’t we? Just relaxing, playing games, shopping, watching shows, doodling, etc. And doing all this at work, what a thrill.


Well, this chilling is good, but if done at the workplace or during work hours, it is like stealing from your company. This activity is called Cyberloafing, the term used to describe employees who use work time to conduct non-work-related internet activities such as web browsing, social media use, or checking and responding to personal emails. This list may also include Gaming or Watching movies.


Effects of Cyberloafing

In the last couple of decades, with constant advancement in technology, Our dependence on computers during work hours has only increased and this has led to some chances of escape from work. It might seem a small issue to you, but companies take it very seriously. If we talk about data, one-third of the time that individuals spend on the Internet takes place at work, and over half of that time is not work-related. According to a survey, nearly 88% of employees engage in cyberloafing during work hours, with 66% surfing for 10 minutes to an hour. Similarly, 82% of employees send and receive non-work-related emails during work hours. The most frequently visited websites at work are those related to gaming, investing or stock trading, shopping, adult activities, sports, job hunting, and gambling. Another survey by researchers at the University of Nevada, Cyberloafing costs businesses $85bn a year through lost time.


Reasons for Cyberloafing

To understand the causes of cyberloafing, we must first understand what employees are attempting to accomplish. There are some tangible benefits, such as learning new skills. In other cases, the employee may use it to take a much-needed mental health or well-being break. According to Natalie Mason, a Ph.D. candidate at Aston University, cyberloafing is a coping mechanism that may be caused by many reasons, such as Loneliness at the workplace, Lack of interaction with coworkers, or Lack of interest at work.

The most common coping mechanism employees use is scrolling through social media. It may be to distract themselves from work or feel less lonely. During COVID-19 lockdowns, A lot of companies had to switch to online modes. This not just left employees isolated at home, but also many lacked motivation to work because of no physical interaction with co-workers. This led to them falling for cyberloafing.


The good and the bad

According to a researcher, cyberloafing provides the mental break needed to recover from work-related stress. According to another study, cyberloafing increased employee productivity by 16% when compared to traditional work breaks away from the computer. However, both studies were certain that the results varied depending on the specific activity performed by the employee while cyberloafing. Another intriguing discovery made by researchers was that men were more likely than women to engage in cyberloafing. Men saw cyberloafing as a necessary distraction from work. Women, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic about cyberloafing and preferred more traditional work breaks.



Not just the company, but managers also suffer from cyberloafing done by employees if work is not done on time or if it becomes a habit. In order to prevent it or control it, the first thing managers must do is communicate and have a clear understanding. This includes why cyberloafing is occurring and what it is costing to the company. Employees, for example, may lack the self-awareness to realize they are using social media at work because they feel isolated by their co-workers, but in other cases, they may be aware of this reason. Whatever it may be, the solution starts with open communication.



The limited research on cyberloafing suggests that employees are more likely to cyberloaf when they perceive workplace mistreatment. Companies can reduce cyberloafing through thoughtful employee relations, acceptable use policies, software, and sanctions. Organizations should keep in mind that some amount of cyberloafing may be beneficial.

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