Workplace surfing hounds have a new hero

Surfing the Internet for fun while at work actually increases employee productivity, insists Dr. Brent (Goof-off) Coker, a researcher from the Department of Management and Shirking at Australia's notoriously laid-back University of Melbourne.

The press release is dated April 2, so I am presuming -- as should you -- that this "research" is being presented in good faith.

"People who do surf the Internet for fun at work - within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office - are more productive by about 9% than those who don't," he says. "Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos on YouTube, using social networking sites like Facebook or shopping online under the pretense that it costs millions in lost productivity, however that's not always the case."

Dr. Coker even has a catchy acronym for the behavior he's championing: WILB, which stands for "workplace Internet leisure browsing."

Try this one next time a supervisor gives you the stink-eye for having YouTube open on your desk: "Back-off, boss, I'm WILBing here ... and it's good for the bottom line."

Dr. Coker's conclusions were based on a survey of 300 workers, 70 percent of whom were dedicated enough to their jobs and employers to surf the Internet for fun while on the company dime. The gist of his theory is that employees "need to zone out for a bit" in order to maximize their effectiveness.

In all seriousness, there's little reason to doubt the general point: Productive workers need periodic breaks, both physical and mental.

However, what about that 30 percent of workers who are cheating the company by not taking their therapeutic surfing breaks? Seems to me they're taking a huge risk in this down economy that has a new round of layoffs being announced every day.

Mandatory surfing breaks? I think I'm on to something here.

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