Surf and be happy

Wait, don’t close that browser! People who use the Web at work are more productive, do better work, and feel happier and less stressed.

At least that’s what Xylo Inc., a market research firm for businesses, said. The company specializes in Web-based work and lifestyle research and advises companies on how to attract and retain employees.

The report, Internet Usage in the Workplace, polled 1,000 American adults in August. The respondents commented on their use of the Internet at work, their companies’ policies on Internet usage, and the impact on their job performance and work environment. Opinion research firm Wirthlin Worldwide conducted the survey.

Of those who say they use the Internet at work, an overwhelming 86 per cent report that access has no negative impact on their jobs; nearly half (46 per cent) say the Internet helps them be more productive. And the more they surf, the more productive, respondents claim: Of the employees who use the Internet at work every day, 74 per cent report increased productivity. The 64 per cent of workers surveyed who say their employers have very lenient Internet usage policies also say Internet access helps them do more work.

As for personal use of the Internet at work, more than half the respondents (56 per cent) still claim it has a positive impact on their work. In fact, 28 per cent said it improves their work to sometimes do personal surfing, and 28 per cent also say it makes them happier or less stressed.

It’s just an electronic extension of flexible work policies to meet employees’ general needs, said Norman Behar, president and chief executive officer of Xylo.

“When companies allow employees to spend a few moments on-line each day to handle personal issues, such as making dinner reservations, planning a trip or selecting a last-minute gift, these employees are able to better balance the demands of their work and home lives,” Behar said. “When employees feel their employers are supportive of a balanced work and home life, they tend to become more productive, loyal and committed to their company.”

Clearly, employers are aware of Internet issues in the workplace. More than 70 per cent of the employees who have Internet access at work say their companies have a formal Internet usage policy. Nearly half, 48 per cent, say personal surfing is permitted. Only 25 per cent of respondents who have ‘net

access say company policies prohibit personal use of the Internet at work.