The Top Ten Ways Workers Waste Time Online

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6. Fantasy Football – 0.12 hr/week (during season)

Fantasy football has quickly become a national obsession, and during football season there is almost nothing employers can do to keep participants’ attention from it.  The hobby, which requires at least an hour’s worth of attention every week, undoubtedly adds a certain amount of drag to many businesses.  According to some reports, fantasy football caused $9 billion in lost productivity in 2009 alone.

7. Pornography – 0.13 hr/week
Although it is shocking, a 2010 Nielsen study found that 29% of workers have looked at pornography while at work. That number, which amounts to 21 million Americans, suggests that more people are spending time looking at “adult content” while at work than they are reading about current events. In support of these extreme numbers, the study found that 70% of all pornography traffic occurs between 9am and 5pm.  What is the average amount of time each of these workers spends on adult websites per session? 12 minutes and 38 seconds.

8. Videos/Movies – 0.21 hr/week
Online interest in videos and movies is growing, with the number of  U.S. videos streamed reaching nearly 10 billion in August.  A significant portion of those views are attributable to Google’s YouTube, the 3rd most visited site on the Web. According to comScore, more than 161 million people watched an average of 157 videos in August.  The average online viewer watched 9.7 hours during that time.  The average duration of videos was 3.7 minutes.

9. Search – 0.19 hr/week
Although Google has more users than any other website, the amount of time spent searching is relatively low.  That fact remains true during work hours, where the time spent searching is also relatively low compared to other more popular online activities.  Still, the amount of money lost to time spent on personal searches is estimated by sources to be significant.  According to a study by RescueTime, when Google replaced its home page logo with Pac-Man – the playable version of the classic game – earlier this year, it cost the economy a total of 4,819,352 hours of productivity, which researchers estimated was worth over $120 billion in potential productivity.

10. Online Shopping – 0.15 hr/week
Online shopping, while not everyone’s vice, can drain workers’ productivity.  Sites such as Amazon and Ebay are extremely popular, and often take priority at work.  This is even more evident around the holiday season.  In 2009, IT information association ISACA estimated that the average employee would spend 14.4 hours shopping from the office around the holidays.

-Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre