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Are People Wasting Time Online-Or Is It Time Well Wasted?

So Salary.com has released the results of its annual Wasting Time At Work survey, and,  not surprisingly,  nearly half the respondents (48 per cent) admit that surfing the net for personal use is their biggest time-waster at work.

That’s an unfortunate blow to anyone trying to implement social media tools at work.  At first glance, it gives ammunition to those on the SM-shy C-Level : the ones who have admitted they think social media works but who also don’t plan to implement social media tactics for their internal operations.

(These stats are U.S.-based,  but I think Canadian results would likely be the same.  If anyone has seen comparable stats, let me know.)

Reading more of the stats, though,  not only suggests that people are changing how they communicate, but that the lines are getting blurry between what’s procrastination and what is not. They also suggest many opportunities for PR professionals.

The second and third biggest time-wasters are socializing with coworkers (33 per cent) and conducting personal business (27 per cent).

Those are both things you can do on the internet. I’m not sure how Salary.com worded their question,  but it looks like there’s an overlap for the top three.

I’d also like a breakdown of what people are searching for while they’re procrastinating on the web.   Are they switching back and forth from researching venue sites for the next conference and where they should go for dinner?  Or are they doing both at once, if work and personal tasks collide?   That may mean that people are actually shortening the time they spend on non-work related issues.   It could indicate that the web is actually cutting down on how much time people “waste” at work.

Furthermore, since  people admit they’re spending time on non-work related tasks,  it likely means they’re visiting social networks, and surfing microsites for fun distractions from the day.

That means a greater opportunity to further your clients’ messages and initiate two-way dialogue.  Provided everyone isn’t too busy tagging Facebook photos of last Saturday’s martini night to finish the press releases, of course.

I think in the post-digital world, it’s difficult to quantify what’s a time-waster and what’s not.  But since people are spending so much time on the web at work,  PR professionals have a great chance to build and maintain relationships between clients and publics.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me,  I want to watch this video my friend sent me.  It’s supposed to be really funny.


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