Social Media's Place in the Workplace

MELBOURNE, Australia, May 18 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- The average employee spends between 30 and 60 minutes each day online for personal reasons, according to a study by Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australian and web security company MailGuard.

Facebook and Twitter are not a significant distraction in the majority of the cases.

The study analysed anonymous data provided with the consent of Australian client companies and tracked the browsing habits of staff – some based overseas – from January to December 2009.

Although 40 per cent of people in the sample of around 50,000 had used Facebook in the six-month period analysed, the average time spent on the site was just a few minutes.

While other studies have drawn on consumer data and qualitative research, this is the first to scrutinise individual behaviour over an extended period.

"The uses tend to be comparatively banal: people check the news, weather and transport timetables," said Dr Rajesh Vasa from Swinburne's Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies. "Sport news sites are particularly popular and online shopping is rising."

Only 20 per cent of staff were classified by the researchers as 'heavy explorers', exceeding a baseline of 'normal' that was set at 200 websites a month. It's at this level that staff productivity is considered to deteriorate.

Researchers from Swinburne are now working with Mailguard to create a program that monitors the internet use of employees and calculates the average use for particular occupations and departments.

Dr Vasa is also developing a self-regulation tool that tells individuals when their internet use changes.

Heather Crosling
Associate Director
Media and Communications Unit
Swinburne University of Technology
Tel: +61 3 9214 5968
Mob: 0416 174 962
Fax: +61 3 9214 8383

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Source: Swinburne University of Technology