April 04, 2011

Work & the 'Net

From the New Yorker:
But, crazy as such estimates are, there’s no doubt that the Internet has made it much easier—and more entertaining—to slack off at the office. In a widely cited survey from 2005, people said that the Net was their favorite way to waste time at work—and that was before the advent of Twitter.

...And the curious result was that those who hadn’t watched the comedy video made significantly more mistakes than those who had. You might have thought that those who had spent the previous ten minutes laughing would become distracted and careless. Instead, it was the act of following company policy and not clicking that button that eroded people’s ability to focus and concentrate.

The basic insight—that giving people some respite from difficult tasks, along with the chance to let their minds wander, will make them more productive—remains true. Sometimes, it turns out, you have to take your eye off the ball in order to hit it.

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