What Is Cyberslacking?

Cyberslacking refers to an employee’s use of work computers and other resources during work hours for non-work-related purposes. When an employee is cyberslacking, he or she will generally use these resources for personal affairs and for entertainment purposes. 

Understanding Cyberslacking

Because many companies need (and sometimes profit off the use of) the internet, cyberslacking has become more prevalent. And because most firms are connected, it sometimes becomes more difficult to tell when someone is cyberslacking, at least upfront. Many employers can track usage, though, to find out how employees are using their time online. 

Cyberslackers are workers who will use company resources during work hours for their own personal pleasure. Cyberslackers are also known as cyberloafers or goldbrickers. 

What Are Cyberslackers Doing?

In most cases, cyberslackers are surfing the web rather than working. An employee may use his or her time to scroll through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat. But because many companies use these social networking sites as marketing channels, their usage becomes cloudy; it's hard to tell if an employee is using them for personal or business use.

In other cases, cyberslackers may go online to play games or for retail shopping. Employers may see a big bump in personal use for online shopping when retailers have massive sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. According to a survey conducted by research firm Robert Half Technology, 23 percent of respondents said they would be shopping on Cyber Monday in 2017 rather than working. 

Costs of Cyberslacking

There can be a hefty cost to cyberslacking. The most obvious is a drop in productivity. When employees become distracted and start to avoid work by going online for things other than work, they become less productive. Because an employee spends more time surfing the web, he is concentrating less and less on work. 

Then there is the financial cost. According to a study conducted by an internet research firm in 2005, cyberslacking can cost companies billions of dollars each year. Employees surveyed said they spent more than five hours per workday surfing on the web. A drop in productivity means a drop in profits

Cyberslacking can also have an effect on workplace infrastructure. Because cyberslackers are surfing on company resources (on company time), the network systems may become vulnerable to malware and other intrusions. Employees never know the security level of the sites they visit, and even reputable sites can provide openings into a company's system. Although a social site like Facebook may itself be safe, a third-party app linked to it may not be secure and can be hacked. 

Tracking Cyberslacking

Because of the heavy cost associated with it, some companies have gone to great lengths to control cyberslacking. Here are a few ways that some companies may help curb it, by doing any or all of the following: 

  • Tracking online activities of their employees through software
  • Restricting access to inappropriate or work-related sites
  • Instituting codes of conduct with disciplinary action for anyone caught cyberslacking