(Jan. 18, 2016) -- A new study by Matthew McCarter, associate professor of management at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), looks into the bane of managers in nearly every industry: employees slacking off by excessively surfing the Internet, an activity known as cyberloafing.
“Leisure surfing can be helpful,” McCarter said. “It relieves stress and can help people recoup their thoughts, but cyberloafing is different. That’s when people are supposed to be working and are instead surfing.”
Cyberloafing costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in the United States annually.
“What’s happened now, with the advent of the Internet, is that it’s nearly impossible to keep people off the Internet at work because of mobile devices,” he said. “Getting people to stop cyberloafing is the big thing management is worried about.”
McCarter, an expert in managerial decision making in the UTSA College of Business, notes a study that found that British workers were being interrupted by Twitter and Facebook notifications about every 10 minutes. It took the employees about 23 minutes to get back to work, costing their employers thousands of dollars each year.
He partnered with Brice Corgnet at Chapman University and Roberto Hernán-González at Nottingham University to determine the best methods of eliminating cyberloafing in a standard office setting. A group of 10 volunteers were given a mundane data entry task, and were overseen by a manager, also a volunteer. They were paid the standard for a data processing clerk, but also given a bonus resulting from how much work the workgroup was collectively able to accomplish. At any time, the workers could click on a button and go surf the Internet instead of entering data.
Some people never left their work while others left their work right away. Still others went back and forth between working and online surfing. Overall, about 14 percent of the workers’ time was spent cyberloafing.
McCarter and his fellow researchers tried two different methods to stop cyberloafing. The first was an autocratic decision process, wherein the manager simply turned off the Internet access. This stopped the cyberloafing, naturally, but didn’t necessarily cause an uptick in productivity. The cyberloafing subjects, in spite, often just stopped working and would even stare at the ceiling until the day was over.
The second method allowed the group to vote whether to turn the Internet off. Ninety percent of the time, the group agreed to cut off the Internet. In this instance, the subjects who had previously been cyberloafing increased their productivity by 38 percent. As time went on, the former cyberloafers were equally as hard-working as those who had stayed off the Internet.
“In group voting, you strategically give your workers control over something,” McCarter said. “By giving them a voice to stop an unproductive behavior, not only did a strong majority agree to stop cyberloafing, but those who had been cyberloafing (and even who voted against turning off the Internet) redeemed themselves by contributing to the team and working just as hard as the others.”
Read Matthew McCarter’s study, “The Role of the Decision-Making Regime on Cooperation in a Workgroup Social Dilemma: An Examination of Cyberloafing.”
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Management.
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Come out and meet Dr. Ray Bateman, ARL South Cyber on-site Lead, and Kristin Schweitzer who form the nucleus of ARL South Cyber on our campus. They will give a brief overview of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and how it fits within the Army’s hierarchy. Morning session is 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Afternoon session is 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
John Peace Library (JPL 4.04.12C), Main Campus
Join the UTSA Master of Social Work Advanced Social Work Methods Policy Practice Advocacy Class for a panel discussion on child care policies and its effect on higher education. Event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 1.322), Downtown Campus
UTSA Associate Dean/Associate Professor Francine Romero will sit down with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg for a wide-ranging conversation about the Mayor's vision for the City's future. Seating is at capacity but the San Antonio Express-News will stream it live.
Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics is offering four special panels open and free to the San Antonio public July 31-Aug. 3 to mark the tricentennial next year. The event is co-sponsored by UTSA Research.
Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., San Antonio
The UTSA community welcomes students to their on-campus home! Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall are home for 2,300 students during the academic year, and Move-In event kicks off the start of Roadrunner Days.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village, Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
The College of Engineering hosts this seminar featuring Jeff Adams, Southwest Zone Quality Manager, Siemens Building Technologies Division. The event is free and open to the public.
Engineering Building (EB 3.04.30), Main Campus
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