How to Convince Your Boss That Browsing Online Can Boost Productivity Are you stifled in your job because you can’t freely search for information and facts that could possibly help you at work? Or do you feel that 10 minutes of online gaming or fun could give you the ideal break and leave you refreshed and ready to get back to work? Before you ask your boss if you can liberally browse the Internet, come armed with concrete facts and reasons in order to effectively state your case and convince him or her. Steps Before Talking to Your Boss 1 Make your case about the benefits of unbridled Internet access. Do some research on productivity levels and online browsing––the best way to convince your boss that online freedom for all is a good thing is to provide him or her with cold hard facts! You'll need tangible reasons and facts as to how unrestrained browsing will benefit employee productivity and corporate growth: Use reputable studies, such as The National University of Singapore study, Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement, by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim. Print out the The Wall Street Journal article that discusses the results of this study: "The researchers found that the Web-surfers were significantly more productive and effective at the tasks than those in the other two groups and reported lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom and higher levels of engagement." "Because Web-surfing can aid productivity, the researchers caution employers against over-restricting workers' Web access. They recommend that managers allow time for limited personal Web browsing 'since it has a salubrious impact on employees' productivity,' while limiting access to personal emails." Search for studies that pertain to your specific industry. For more credibility, search for studies that address your particular situation. For example, if you work in a bank, identify studies that have demonstrated increased marketability or employee productivity amongst banks when employees have been allowed to surf the net during their break or in order to research the competition. An easy way to dig up this kind of info is to go to http://scholar.google.com and search for "internet surfing employees bank" (replacing "bank" with your industry). 2 Consider what benefits might occur if there were more freedom to browse online at your workplace, especially personal-type browsing. What area of your job (and other positions at the company) could be enhanced by more online freedom? No doubt areas such as research, sales and marketing, clarification of legal and financial issues, etc., could be enhanced by unrestrained online browsing but so too can simply knowing what's happening out there with competitors and customers. Go through each department and determine if online browsing would be beneficial company-wide or in certain departments. Also, take into consideration any repercussions if the company were to allow online browsing for some departments and not others. Look at social media as a way of keeping up. Social media has fast grown as a source of immediate information that can provide feedback on the type of work your company is doing, what competitors are up to, and perhaps even things being said about your company itself. Having a finger on the pulse of what is happening in social media circles can be beneficial for some workplaces. Use a combination of common sense and studies when trying to convince your boss of the benefit of allowing free time to surf online at work. Some of the benefits will be relevant only to your workplace, while others will be broader for most people in office situations. Some reasons might include: Employees will feel a greater sense of freedom and work and will therefore not get resentful about only using the internet for work reasons. Employees will have a "mental break" and return to working refreshed and more lively. Employees won't feel the need to sneak online to check their auction bids or to check the shopping specials. Openness is a good thing in the workplace and has a spill-on effect. Zoning out can restore intense concentration, which is better than forcing employees to work on relentlessly on the same items. 3 Pick your battles. Identify which kind of online browsing is acceptable based on your research. For example, perhaps browsing news websites may be acceptable and helpful, whereas allowing employees to play popular social media online games may be detrimental. Maybe doing crosswords is okay, while multi-player shootouts is not. 4 Explore any negative aspects of introducing free and loose online activity. Every story has its flipside and you need to know what the boss might be thinking in response to your feel-good proposal. Honestly consider any negatives that could crop up as a result of having unbridled online surfing such as becoming addicted to online gaming, neglecting work or possibly viewing inappropriate sites. Another concern of many employers is leaving negative messages online in company time, or spats starting up online between employees or competitors. Make a list and compare and contrast positives and negatives. At the end of this list, add solutions that you think will work to help deal with the negatives. 5 Review your company’s official policy on Internet surfing. Has a policy been established? Is it actually banned? It's important to know what you're up against before launching your persuasive techniques on the boss. If Internet use is banned, try to find out how long ago that rule was made, who made it, and why. Getting coworkers on side 1 Ask for coworker input. Find out if your coworkers think that online browsing will enhance their productivity. Take a poll and use their input to back your independent research. Before approaching coworkers, select a handful of peers who work in a variety of departments to provide input. Identify specific employees who are fully engaged in their job and care about the company. 2 Create a blind survey surrounding employee productivity and online surfing. Compile a short list of questions (10 or less) that will allow you to gauge whether employees share your enthusiasm. Refer to your studies, independent research and be direct and to the point with each question. For example, word questions such as, “List three reasons why you would be in favor or against online browsing during office hours.” 3 Keep coworkers real. Most coworkers will jump with glee at the idea of unlimited online access. While you need them onside, be careful not to oversell the possibilities––stay realistic! You do need to point out limitations and expectations that would probably attach to unlimited online browsing rights (such as their responsibilities and sites they'd probably not be able to use at work). Also take into account relevant security protocols in your workplace––if you don't, someone will point this out. The proposal 1 Develop a proposal surrounding your independent research and employee insights. This proposal will be the brief that your boss will use for reference so make sure it’s carefully written and includes your research and reasons. Create a synopsis that briefly describes your mission, along with the strongest points and research. Develop a one or two page synopsis that addresses the general idea behind your proposal. Include some of the most powerful pieces of research to punctuate your point. Develop a comprehensive paper that outlines why you believe online surfing will enhance productivity, how it will be beneficial, who will benefit most and how it could executed. Getting the boss onside 1 Request an appointment with your boss to discuss your position. Go directly to the source if you're comfortable, or ask his or her assistant to identify a time that would provide you with about an hour to discuss your proposal. Suggest an on-site or a lunch meeting, depending upon the type of relationship you have with your boss. If you think your boss may be more receptive to your ideas in a casual environment, opt for a location offsite. Schedule your appointment during a time when your boss isn’t in the middle of a major project. 2 Do your homework prior to the meeting to gather company facts in terms of growth, sales and profits. It's important to present a healthy picture of a company doing well, one that values its employees and seeks ways to promote the well-being of employees, as well as focusing on better productivity outcomes. Compare other programs that benefit employees, so that you can liken the open browsing idea to other well- being initiatives in the firm that have all increased employee productivity. Then, relate the desire to open up internet surfing to continuing improving employee productivity. Where relevant, identify any specific area you know your boss watches every day that has direct links to internet usage and discuss how this is one example of improved productivity through internet usage. 3 Present your findings and proposal in relation to corporate growth and overall direction. Transition from company success facts to your plan to improve overall productivity––online browsing. Refer to your synopsis point-by-point, punctuating why employee online browsing could be beneficial. Don’t go through the entire proposal but instead refer to the synopsis, which provides an overview of your plan. Identify specific studies that demonstrated how employee online browsing boosts productivity. Point to important studies contained in the synopsis and compare and contrast how the study could be applied to your company. Explain how online browsing could be implemented specifically at your company. Be sensible about time requests. Treat the free surfing time as you would a tea or coffee break. Perhaps you'd like to suggest that free surfing time should only be during such times or the lunch break rather than during productive work hours––this would depend on the type of workplace you're in. Also clarify that there should be clear parameters put into place as to what can't be viewed––not just the obvious ones like pornography, gambling and hate sites––but also certain game sites, anything that chews up bandwidth or slows down the work system, anything that is considered to be offensive or poor taste, etc.Go into detail about when, where and how employees could spend free downtime on the Internet. 4 Allow your boss to ask questions. Be sure you open the floor to questions. Before your meeting, try to anticipate what he or she may ask so that you can be prepared to answer any questions, especially the curly ones. Inquire if there is any aspect of your proposal that he or she would like to see covered more extensively. Let your boss know that you could conduct additional or more in-depth research on any aspect of the proposal if it will help him or her make a decision. Have your answers ready to as many negatives as possible, couched in terms of solutions where possible. Follow up 1 Arrange for a follow up meeting to further discuss your idea. Before concluding your initial meeting, request a follow up meeting to re-discuss your proposal. Hopefully your boss will want to study and think about what has just been presented. Ask your boss when would be the best time to meet. Allow him or her to set the meeting based on his or her schedule. Also, ask if the same time and place works well for him or her. Provide any additional information or news articles for your boss to consider in between meetings. If your boss seems somewhat dubious about the idea, have several additional news articles or information on hand to give to your boss before you leave the meeting. Leave the door open to questions from your boss in between meetings. Let your boss know that you are available for questions or discussion at any time. 2 Have a concrete implementation plan ready for your follow up meeting. Have a specific step-by-step plan surrounding how online office browsing could be implemented at your office. Include very specific instructions how online browsing will be executed. Identify when, where, how and who will be able to browse freely online. Not only should you identify those areas, back up your assertions with why. For example, based on your research, your corporate mission and goals, explain why the accounting department should be able to freely browse the Internet mid-morning and mid-afternoon for 30 minutes at a time and what the consequences of this will likely be. Consider a trial period if he or she is still on the fence. If you think your boss is still leery or more unlikely to adopt your plan, ask if he or she would consider a trial period of a few weeks or months? Let your boss know that there is nothing to lose and possibly something to gain as a result. Offer to track and monitor employee productivity levels. Tracking will be key to making your program a success. Consult with your information technology department to inquire about how you could track online time, sites visited and any other statistics. Then talk to operations about tracking productivity levels so you can compare and contrast the impact of online playing on productivity. Tips Take an entrepreneurial attitude toward your venture. Treat this proposal as a business endeavor where you must use facts, logic and accountability to make your point. If your boss is interested in reducing stress and employee conflicts for the workforce, look for evidence that free surfing can allow employees to seek emotional support online to get through difficult situations. If you or other employees are disabled with mental health issues, more freedom surfing may be a workplace accommodation you can use to get emotional support and compensate for flares or triggers. Warnings If your boss says “no”, don’t surf the Internet on the sneak. Doing so could set you up to be fired or disciplined. If you passionately believe that you should be able to have unrestrained access, consider re- approaching your boss later down the line, with fresh facts and figures.