Why Goof Offs Get Ahead At Work
A few years ago, I interviewed Ben Huh, the CEO of the Cheezburger network, which has brought us such internet memes as the LOLcats. He started our meeting by telling me that a major consulting company had recently blocked access to the Fail blog for its employees. While admitting that this was a self-serving line, he claimed that "a little bit of goofing off at work helps productivity."
I do think he's onto something. In the past, a far higher proportion of people took cigarette breaks -- 10 minutes outside lighting up. It's like a mini-vacation. Now, since very few of us smoke, we take our cigarette breaks by looking at pictures of signs poorly translated into English. There are downsides -- you haven't really left your desk -- but upsides too: less risk of cancer.
The larger point, though, is that looking at funny pictures makes you laugh, and only takes a few minutes. The Cheezburger network's mission statement is to make the world happy for five minutes a day, and that five-minute figure is based on research into how long the average user spends at one of the network sites.
Five minutes is pretty much nothing. You want to know what really wastes time at work? A two-hour meeting that 10 people attended, that really only had to take one hour, and that was only pertinent to four of the attendees. A better suggestion to companies looking at blocking seemingly time-wasting websites would be to first remove the log in their own corporate policy eyes before picking out a speck on the internet.
What websites do you check when you have a five-minute break?
Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now
More From Laura Vanderkam
- Driven To Distraction? Don't Just Play Defense
- Round Up: Spousonomics, Simple Dollar And Your Minimum Wage
- The Not-So-Secret Life Of Billionaires
Looking for a job? Click here to get started.
Laura Vanderkam is the author of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Portfolio, 2012), and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, 2010). She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children, and blogs daily at www.lauravanderkam.com.
Add Laura to your Google+ Circles.