I worry that some people believe this sort of rubbish. According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the average UK worker spends ninety minutes a week misusing corporate internet connections.The CBI said that workers are spending roughly an hour and a half out of their week visiting web sites that have no relation to their work whatsoever. Cumulatively, it said, this costs UK businesses some £10.6bn in lost productivity over the course of a year.The CBI polled some 503 businesses, who it said employed nearly one million workers between them. Two thirds of those who took part admitted that they think that their staff use work time – ie, not lunch, or formal breaks, to look at non-work sites. It identified social networking, web-based email and shopping and holiday sites as the biggest draws. Overall, they estimate the annual cost, per employee to be the region of £1000. According to the report, this costs UK businesses £10.6 billion (yes billion) a year in lost productivity.Firstly of all, do they really expect us to believe that if there was a complete embargo on ‘non work related websites’ that we’d be saving the economy getting on for £11 billion? This assumes that these employees wouldn’t be doing other ‘wasteful’ things with their time if they weren’t surfing the web – like reading a newspaper or doing su-doku, or otherwise expanding their knowledge.Secondly, they seem to have concluded that any serendipitous use of the internet is wasted time. What about all that information that has been both consciously and sub-consciously absorbed during this browsing experience? I wonder if they’ve quantified the times when some apparently useless nugget of information has been stored in the sub-concious and then used at some later date to contribute to the well being of the person (e.g. some health information), or maybe even applied to the workplace in a way that has improved productivity?I’m saddened that a respected industry body such as the CBI should publish such report like this that draws some very debatable conclusions on a potentially flawed hypothesis that serendipitous use of the web is bad for business. Maybe they’d have us bring the workhouse back?I just hope that managers will not use this report as further ammunition to restrict workers from using the web for anything other than browsing their own company’s web site. Let’s not apply 19th century working practices to 21st century workers!
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