Do you ever spend your time reading and procrastinating on random websites when you should probably be working?

* Waits for the irony to fully sink in *

Me too! In fact, it’s a pretty standard practice for the vast majority of civilized society. And while we’re very well aware that we all need a distraction from our routines every now and then, it’s easy to feel guilty about the time we’re wasting online while our work accumulates.

In order to curb that guilt a little bit, I’m happy to inform you that according to a study by the University of Cincinnati, having an online break at work can actually refresh employees and boost their productivity.

Online Breaks at Work Increase Productivity

The study led by Sung Doo Kim, a doctoral candidate in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, found three major consequences from these online breaks: momentary recovery, learning and satisfaction.

Obviously, any worker appreciates a chance to unwind for a bit, or check up on their duties away from work. Kim also said the employees that used that time reading industry news or researching felt they were benefitting their careers, and expressed greater levels of satisfaction with the freedom their job allows them.

“Employees reported benefits on going online to balance their work and personal responsibilities, such as checking on their children,” said Kim. “After reassuring themselves about their children, they were better able to focus on their work.”

33 professionals – 14 healthcare workers and 19 full-time working MBA (banking, education and media) students –  were interviewed extensively about their online breaks.

The reported online activities the workers took were categorized into two types: pleasure-seeking, and non-work-related duties. And while I strongly favor the former, in today’s world these two can easily blur into each other. Basically, any break from an exhausting activity will be well received. It makes us feel good to remain productive while we also take our attention away from the task we spend all day on.

Of course, the researchers also cautioned that if these bursts of leisure are taken irresponsibly and extend for long periods of time, these could backfire in the form of cyberloafing, wasting time and productivity excessively. Then again, if you tend to spend hours on the Internet on non-work-related matters, chances are you didn’t need a study to tell you that, but it might have been here in time to save your job!

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