British employees spend the equivalent of one day a week in the office surfing the net for purposes other than work, a survey has revealed.
Instead of stopping work for traditional tea breaks, people are downing tools for ‘i-breaks’ which last on average six hours and 23 minutes every week.
Online activities which now take place at work include reading newspaper websites, shopping around for bargains, playing computer games and online banking.
But incredibly, two thirds of those polled believe their i-breaks leave them feeling more refreshed and focused, and better able to cope with their workload.
A spokesman for GoCompare, which conducted the poll of 3,000 workers, said: “The majority of employees polled are convinced that taking regular i-breaks actually helps them to perform better at work.
“The fact of the matter is that Brits are working longer hours than ever before – certainly longer than the rest of Europe, so this means they have less time to do things at home.
“While we can’t really excuse people using work computers to play computer games or read news websites, it is understandable that things like online banking, shopping around for deals and food shopping sometimes have to be conducted during the day.”
Everyone takes breaks from work – and it probably takes less time to log onto the internet every now and then than it does to take a trip to the kitchen or vending machine for a tea break, or to go outside for a fag break
A Go Compare spokesman
The poll shows workers log onto news websites for two hours and five minutes every week, to update themselves on the latest bulletins and celebrity news. Workers spend an hour and a quarter each week chatting on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and just under an hour and a half shopping online.
And folk spend 40 minutes a week online banking, checking their finances and paying bills. The remainder of the week – another hour in total – is spent watching videos online, playing computer games and downloading music.
Interestingly, a fifth of workers blame their hectic schedules for the fact they conduct some of their personal business at work. A quarter of those polled regularly use comparison websites at work to find the best prices, while 42% log on to conduct their banking.
One in 10 people will even take time out to conduct their weekly food shop while at work.
The Go Compare spokesman continues: “The fact is that everyone takes breaks from work – and it probably takes less time to log onto the internet every now and then than it does to take a trip to the kitchen or vending machine for a tea break, or to go outside for a fag break.
“Brits aren’t skivers or workshy, but they do try to balance their personal business with their professional business. And it sounds like bosses will actually get more out of their staff if they are a little bit lenient and turn a blind eye to a bit of extra-curricular activity.”
Eight in 10 workers say they are fully entitled to their i-breaks because they work so hard the rest of the time. But only a third of people think their employers are aware of how long they are spending doing things other than work.
And 28% acknowledge the boss would probably be furious to know what they were getting up to when they should be working. But a fifth of workers claim they get distracted at work because they are so bored, while 16% say they work long hours and don’t get any time to do anything at home.
Breakdown of distractions
News websites: 2 hours 5 minutes
Social networking: 1 hour 15 minutes
Shopping online: 1 hour 23 minutes
Online banking/paying bills: 40 minutes
TV / videos online: 45 minutes
Computer games: 8 minutes
Downloading music: 7 minutes
Total time spent on non-work-related internet browsing: six hours, 23 minutes a week; 43.77 days a year