Web 2.0 causing productivity losses?

I had come across this news a few days back – happened to read the full press release today. A little excerpt:

Almost each day, an average corporate employee spends an hour, gluing to various social networking sites such as Orkut, Facebook, Myspace, Linkdein etc. for romancing or otherwise drive some satisfaction out of it. With this average corporate employee’s each day working is reduced by an hour from 8 hour to 7 hour, further reveal the ASDF survey. The above findings are arrived at a random survey, carried out by the ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF) in which nearly 4000 corporate employees were interviewed between age group ranging from 21-30, 31-45 and 46 -60 years in metros…”

For a moment, ignore the typos which suggest that these results were thrown up by some random survey. To most of us, there is nothing even a little bit surprising about the fact that employees are ‘romancing’ or deriving some ‘other satisfaction’ (!!) from the internet. The survey draws attention to the wastage that corporates employing net-addicted youth are footing the bill for.

A couple of reasons why no one is likely to make a big deal of this –
In India even today, most people can only access the internet at their workplaces. Even if they do, the connection in their offices is likely to be the best. So its not surprising that “77% of workers who have Orkut account use it during work hours” and “83% see nothing wrong in surfing at work during the office hours”.

In any case, corporate employees, especially the social networking kind, rarely only work the stipulated eight hours. We are all so familiar with people who spend 12 or more hours at their workplace, sometimes because they have lots of work to do, but mostly because they spent a good part of their day being unproductive, or they stay in late to avoid the traffic or to just enjoy the AC/internet/snack bar/gym/(sometimes, even access to a computer)

So increased internet usage for leisure at the workplace is happening in an environment where corporates compete to substitute homes for young professionals. And a lot of us have been living out of our offices, using our homes just as a sleeping pad. The survey probably did not ask respondents whether they visit news websites (and quite possibly, have nearly put the newspaper boy out of business); read film reviews to make their plans for the weekend; blog (oh my god! – blogging might die if internet usage at the workplace is restricted) etc etc

I am curious – are there studies linking internet usage by employees with the company’s growth/profits? And employee morale? Querying whether these employees spend less time hanging out with friends in the real world (offline) are probably passe…

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