Does prohibiting internet access in offices help?

Most offices have this problem. Internet is a must for work but employers see it as a distraction. Hence it is prohibited from use. Does this work?

The answer is no. It actually leads to more mistakes in their working hours.

Alessandro Bucciol, Daniel Houser and Marco Piovesan look at this is in this interesting paper. They conduct an experiment to understand this avoiding temptation behavior.  Their findings are:

Among the many distractions that keep office employees from their work, surfing the web is arguably the most irresistible time-waster of all. In order to deal with that problem, many companies either prohibit Internet use during working hours, or closely monitor employees’ web activity. This means workers must wait until they get home to get their daily YouTube fix. But does forbidding this distraction actually increase productivity? In this paper, researchers find that the answer is no—and that delaying gratification actually has a negative impact on employee performance. Research was conducted by Alessandro Bucciol of the University of Verona and the University of Amsterdam, Daniel Houser of George Mason University, and Marco Piovesan, a research fellow at Harvard Business School. Key concepts include:

  • Experimental research finds that subjects who were told to resist the temptation of watching a funny video made significantly more mistakes on a subsequent task than subjects who were allowed to watch the video right away.
  • The findings suggest that employers should not tell employees not to surf the web in situations where the web is technically available to them. Rather, these companies should either remove web access entirely or, when this is not practical, allow a certain amount of time for personal Internet activity.
  • Employers might also consider allowing regular Internet breaks, in the same way that they offer coffee and cigarette breaks

One can only agree with the paper. There is nothing more annoying than internet prohibition. The IT team can monitor and ensure illegal sites are not being monitored. But other than that let it be. People should be evaluated on their work. As long as that is getting done, employers need not waste time in such trivial tasks. But yes if people are not doing work because of internet then some action needs to be taken.

Work not internet usage should be the criterion.  Internet has become a kind of a necessity now. It isn’t just about temptation anymore…

One Response to “Does prohibiting internet access in offices help?”

  1. SAP-HR systems strategic management on-line access to Time Suning – Suning, human resources, ERP-HC | Information System Strategic Planning Says:

    […] Does prohibiting internet access in offices help? « Mostly Economics […]

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