Friday, August 21, 2009
I just stumbled across this article from La Presse on a survey where the majority of employees (57% in 2000, 71% in 2007) say that having internet access makes them more productive at work. I think a lot of this may be psychological, in that companies that take extensive steps to try to keep their employees from doing anything but work only result in decreasing employee satisfaction, whereas those that are given more freedom are more liable to feel pride in their work and the company they work for. Internet access at work can also be a way to relieve stress and sometimes come up with new ideas.
In Korea it's also the norm for employees to be able to use the internet, though this is also accompanied by a lot of unpaid overtime which is a definite minus.
IMO the only time extensively using the internet is a problem is when employees have not had their responsibilities clearly defined. Those that are clearly responsible for a certain area of a company know very well when it's time to work hard and when it's okay to slack off a bit. If my job as a cartoonist is to write one strip a day for example, once I've written that one strip I have nothing left to do. In the same vein, it doesn't matter if I slack off for half the day if I still end up meeting my deadline with lots of time to spare. Companies that have given their employees clear responsibilities also tend to care less about what they do with their time, because as long as their (clearly defined) section of the company is running fine there's no need to rock the boat.