WORKPLACE / DEC. 05, 2014
version 4, draft 4

Will You Be Doing Your Christmas Shopping at Work This Year?

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Last Friday the news was awash with crazed images of shoppers trying to bag a bargain in the Black Friday sales.  The scenes were far from dignified as people clawed and scratched their way towards various discounted gizmos and gadgets.

The craze took to the web earlier this week with Cyber Monday offering the same kind of discounts online.  Suffice to say, with the activity taking place online; the crush is far less visible, but with the event happening on a working day; it’s quite probable that it gave your productivity a hit.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are designed to mark the start of the Christmas shopping period.  Born in America, they have recently crossed the Atlantic and are rapidly becoming a well-embedded tradition here in Britain too.

Sales on Cyber Monday were estimated to have risen by 26% compared to last year, with around £650 million spent online. Now that’s great news if you’re a retailer, but much less so if you’re an employer that’s trying to get staff to focus on work rather than bargain hunting and spending their online Canadian coupons.

Shopping on work time

The event is particularly damaging because it isn’t really a holiday, and employees are physically at their desks, but if they’re more tuned into the sales than their work it amounts to little more than paid shopping time.

After all, it’s believed that the busiest time for online shopping during the week is 4pm, and a recent survey found that over half of us plan to do some Christmas shopping whilst at work this year.

The rise of cyber loafing

Shopping whilst at work is part of a rising trend known as cyber loafing.  This entails employees engaging in various unproductive activities online.  It includes things like browsing Facebook, playing online games, and of course, doing your shopping.

It’s been suggested, perhaps not surprisingly, that those who are least engaged in their work are most likely to cyber loaf.  It’s also been suggested that fatigue makes us more likely to cyber loaf, as it lowers our resistence to temptation.

Studies have shown that young, male employees are most likely to cyber loaf at work, and are frequent users of web based services.

Other studies have suggested that the rise in cyber loafing has come about due in large part to the lack of work people have to do.  In other words, when they’re bored or not engaged in anything at work, they head online and occupy their time in more pleasurable ways.

What does cyber loafing do to company performance?

So if lots of people are loafing at work, does this have a big impact on corporate performance?  After all, it’s been suggested that a brief bit of loafing on social media is actually a good way for employees to mentally recharge before attacking their work with renewed vigor.

Likewise, a study has found that a moderate amount of cyber loafing is actually good for us.  It suggests that doing shopping online can put us in a positive mood, which in turn makes us work better.

So the huge amount of time we’ll apparently be spending doing our Christmas shopping at work this festive period may not be totally wasted after all.  Nevertheless, I still wouldn’t recommend letting your boss catch you in the act.

 

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