A Modern Workplace Phenomenon: Cyberloafing, Implications and It’s Place in
Prof. Dr. E. Özkalp
Prof. Dr. U. Aydın
Research Asst. S. Tekeli
The advent of internet technology has brought with it increased efficiency in
accessing information and in communicating with others – both of which are vital
objectives (Greenberg, 2005). This technology has revolutionized how business operates
and how work is done. It has also opened up a new avenues and opportunities for
individuals to misbehave. While the internet has brought about many benefits, such as
reducing costs, shortening produced cycle times, facilitating information access and
marketing services and products more effectively, its negative effects have also been
discussed. Negative effects include employees’ concerns about privacy, loss productivity
and organizational liability resulting from employee’s inbound and outbound internet
activities (Lim, Teo & Loo, 2002).
Anandarajan (2002) argued that in addition to being an efficient business tool, the
internet provides employees access to the world largest play ground. While most internet
users feel that activities such as looking up football scores on the net, or emailing to a
friend may take only a couple of seconds, and should not pose a problem in the bigger
scheme of things; often the few seconds adds up to hours spelling a problem for the
company. Recent studies revealed that 84% of employees sent non work related email,
while another 90% surfed the internet for recreational purposes during work hours
(Vault.com, 1999). These statistics suggest that cyberloafing is indeed prevalent and is a
pressing issue for organizations (Lim, 2002). Much of management’s concern stems from
the idea that cyberloafing depletes employees’ energy and time, thus detracting them
The term cyberslacking or cyberloafing has been used to describe voluntary acts
of employees using their companies’ internet access for non work related purposes during
working hours (Lim, 2002). Scholars generally conceptualized cyberloafing as a form of
work place production deviance (Lim, 2002; Lim and Teo, 2005). This is because these
cyber activities (browsing and emailing) which are conducted at the workplace during
work time constitute an unproductive use of time and detract employees from completing
their work demands (Lim and Chen, 2009).
A survey conducted in 2005 by websense.com (www.websense.com), an internet
monitoring company, revealed that 61% of American employees engaged in cyberloafing.
More recently the web & work survey conducted by websense.com in 2006 found that the
average American employee spent about 24% of his working hours in cyberloafing
activities. This puts the average amount of time spent on non work related activities per
employee to 10 hours per week. Anecdotal evidence from Fox (2007) suggested that
some employees spent as many as 5-6 hours a day surfing the internet at work. The
approximate number of American employees who cyberloafed at work, stood at 34
million, leading to productive time lost totaling to 200.6 million hours per week (Debt.
Cubed, 2006). By 2005, cyberloafing had become the most common way employees
wasted time at work (Malachowski, 2005). Moreover, employees are also increasing the
amount of time they spend cyberloafing. As it was previously mentioned current
estimates range from a little over 3 hours per week (Greenfield &Davis, 2002).
Cyberloafing can also put the organization at risk if the employee engages in
illegal activities online (e.g. downloading music or gambling), or creates a harassing
environment through viewing or sending offensive material (Lichtash, 2004; Mill, et al,
2001; Panko & Beh, 2002).
Estimates indicate that between 20% and 30% of companies have fired an
employee for cyberloafing including accessing pornographic sites, online gambling, and
online shopping (Case and Young, 2002; Greenfield and Davis, 2002).
Although companies are concerned with employee productivity loss associated
with cyberloafing activities, some scholars have noted that cyberloafing can serve as a
palliative coping strategy against negative work place experiences such as stress (e.g.
Stanton, 2002; Anandarajan and Simmer, 2005). This is especially important as
employees today are keeping longer hours at work and are likely to suffer negative effects
of stress and burn out (Lim and Chen, 2009; Maslach and Leiter, 1997). Thus, it is
imperative for scholars to examine how and when cyberloafing can have a positive effect
on work so that its potential benefits can be harnessed (Lim and Chen, 2009).
This study is an initial attempt to provide a preliminary examination on the
impact of cyberloafing. The two groups of employees include employees at a higher
education environment; and employees at a private enterprise that produces
technologically advanced aircraft engines. In this study we also examined what types of
cyberloafing activities employees have engaged in and how often they were involved in
these activities. In addition, for policy developments to regulate cyberloafing in
organizations will be discussed.
Why does cyberloafing occur?
Cyberloafing is becoming an issue which the management has to deal with in the
workplace environment. In an article published by the Journal of Employment
Counseling titled “Internet Abuse in the Workplace”, researchers suggest the following
eight factors which contribute to non-work related internet use:
Opportunity and Access: The internet is now commonplace and widespread. It
has become integral to work place environments. Almost every desk position has
Affordability: It is becoming cheaper to use online services. In addition
employees have free access to company internet during work hours.
Anonymity: Allows users to privately engage in their behavior of choice without
being caught by their employer.
Convenience: Interactive online application, such as online shopping, online
banking provide convenient ways that allow employees to complete needed tasks
while remaining at their desks.
Escape: Provides gratification, such as online gambling and cybersex, and a break
from the stresses and strains of real life. This can lead to internet addiction.
Disinhibitation: Allows online users to open up more quickly and reveal
themselves, emotionally much faster than in the real world, which leads back to
Social acceptability: This perception of online activity has changed over the last
ten years. The acceptance of online interaction, such as ordering groceries,
trading stocks, is due in part to technology acceptance.
Longer working hours in the workplace: Many of life activities are performed
from the workplace internet due to being behind the workstation (Kay, Yao,
Chern, Kangas, www.alanchern.com/documents/loafing.pdf).
Different Types of Cyberloafing
Many researchers argue that cyberloafing is wasteful and opens the organization
up for lawsuits. Other researchers however do not believe that cyberloafing is necessarily
bad or even inappropriate. They argue that the internet provides a much needed diversion
at work which can lead to creativity, flexibility, and faster learning environment
(Anandarajan, et al, 2004; Block, 2001; Greenfield and Davis, 2002; Stanton, 2002).
These researchers argue that cyberloafing such as sending and receiving personal email is
similar to taking personal phone calls at work and thus may be considered a perk. In
summary, some researchers argue that cyberloafing may harm employers while others
argue that it may enhance employee productivity (Blanchard and Henle, 2008).
That means there are different types of cyberloafing. For example checking one’s
personal e-mail at work should be considered differently from surfing adult oriented sites
at work. Anandarajan et al. (2004) report that employees and managers created distinct
clusters of cyberloafing types including disruptive cyberloafing (e.g. adult websites and
online games), recreational cyberloafing (e.g. shopping and purposeless surfing) and
personal learning cyberloafing (e.g. visiting personal groups and searching for news of
However, these clusters were developed by respondents’ perceptions about the
appropriateness of the particular cyberloafing behavior at work and not by their actual
behavior. We feel that it is important to identify and examine the different types of
cyberloafing separately. First, it is essential for organizations to understand the different
types of cyberloafing and the frequency in which they occur. Second, by examining the
different forms of cyberloafing separately, we are more likely to understand what leads to
the different types of cyberloafing and also develop appropriate policies or interventions
to decrease or manage their prevalence (Blanchard and Henle, 2008).
Previous researchers (e.g. Lim, 2002) have referred to cyberloafing as a type of
production deviance. That is cyberloafing is a counterproductive behavior which detracts
from an employee’s level of performance at work. Robinson and Bennett (1995)
developed a typology of deviant work place behavior which provides insights into the
cyberloafing forms we may anticipate. In their typology, Robinson and Bennett argued
that deviant organizational behavior falls into two dimensions: seriousness (major or
minor) and target of deviance (another person or the organization). As a form of
production deviance, cyberloafing is an organizationally focused deviant behavior that
can range from minor (e.g., checking one’s personal email) to serious (e.g., gambling on
downloading music illegally). (Look figure 1).
Figure 1. Dimensions and Categories of Deviant Organizational Behavior
PRODUCTION DEVIANCE PROPERTY DEVIANCE
. Leaving early . Stealing company property
. Taking long breaks . Lying about hours worked
. Cyberloafing . Damaging equipment
Minor Seriousness Major
POLITICAL DEVIANCE PERSONAL AGGRESSION
. Showing favoritism . Bullying
. Gossiping about others . Stealing from coworkers
. Incivility . Abusing another person
physically or verbally
Sources: Bennett and Robinson, 2000; Robinson and Bennett, 1995.
Based on this typology our study included two types of cyberloafing which the
two groups of employees engaged in; minor and serious. This provides a better way of
conceptualizing cyberloafing at work because of its grounding in deviance research
(Blanchard and Henle, 2008). Minor cyberloafing consists of “common” uses of email
and the internet at work. For example, this form of cyberloafing may include sending and
receiving personal email or visiting mainstream news, financial and sports related sites. In
this way, minor cyberloafing is similar to other commonly tolerated although not entirely
appropriate behavior at work. It must be noted that although we refer to this type of
cyberloafing as minor, we do not mean to imply at all that it could not have detrimental
effects on the organization such as reduced productivity (Blanchard and Henle, 2008).
Another main form of cyberloafing consists of more serious forms of
cyberloafing which is those behaviors that researchers have previously warned us about.
These behaviors are abusive and potentially illegal such as online gambling, downloading
music, viewing adult oriented sites (Case and Young, 2002). This kind of cyberloafing
has a serious outcome for the organization. Employees who engage in minor cyberloafing
do not believe that they are engaging in appropriate or deviant behavior whereas
employees who engage in serious cyberloafing realize it is deviant and not likely to be
condoned or accepted at work.
Procedure and Sample Characteristics
In this research a questionnaire was developed and randomly distributed to two
groups of employees at two organizations in Eskisehir including: a) TUSAŞ, private
sector and, b) Eskişehir Anadolu University, university sector. TUSAŞ is a private
company which manufactures major parts of a jet engine worldwide. The second
organization, Eskişehir Anadolu University is a public university established in 1958.
Only the employees at the Faculty of Economics and Administration were selected for
this study as this faculty is the oldest and the most crowded among the others.
Data were collected from a total of 106 respondents from two organizations,
public and private. Of the 106 respondents 41,5% (44 people) were private sector
employees and 58,5% (62 people) were university sector career civil servants including
senior or junior lecturers.
After receiving permission from the officials of the two organizations, the
questionnaires were randomly distributed. Participation was voluntary. The return rate
was 71% (106 respondents). The highest and lowest score means varied between 0,00 and
5,00. The significant level for the T Test and One Way ANOVA was accepted at α=0,05.
In this research Cronbach’s alphas=0,87. Item alphas ranged from 0,86 to 0,88 for the
Turkish version of the questionnaire (Table 2).
Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
Demographic Characteristics Frequency %
Female 45 42,5
Male 61 57,5
Total 106 100
35 years old or younger 41 38,7
36 years old or older 65 61,3
Total 106 100
High school and under 9 8,6
Undergraduate 43 41
Post graduate 53 50,5
Total 106 100
Private organization' worker 39 41,5
Senior lecturer 35 37,2
Junior lecturer and civil workers 20 21,3
Total 106 100
With regard to gender and age, 42,5% of the respondents were female and 57,5 %
of the respondents were male; and 38,7% were 35 years old or younger and 61,3% were
36 years old or older. Concerning the education level of the respondents, 8,6% had a high
school education (and below), 41% had undergraduate, 50,5% had postgraduate degrees
Table 2: Reliability Analysis, Means and Standard Deviations of Respondents
Cronbach alpha Mean SD
Send non work e-mail 0,86 3,28 1,267
Search for academic purpose 0,88 3,57 1,452
Using internet for general purpose 0,86 3,18 1,172
Visit news sites 0,86 3,56 1,134
Online shopping 0,86 1,97 1,119
Online banking 0,88 3,01 1,465
Vacation or travel booking 0,86 1,92 1,161
Job hunting 0,87 1,26 .792
Download music, video and film 0,86 1,76 1,057
Chatrooms 0,87 1,85 1,115
Joining forums 0,87 1,62 .928
Visiting adult sites 0,87 1,45 .854
Online games 0,87 1,50 .862
Online gambling 0,88 1,12 .563
Joining Facebook and Twitter e.g. 0,86 2,18 1,297
Research Questions and Hypothesis
The aim of this study was to find out the types of cyberloafing which were valid
in private and public sector organizations and also sought to understand the differences in
why and how often people engaged in the different forms of cyberloafing. Therefore, we
hypothesized the following:
RQ1. According to our belief, people mostly engaged in minor cyberloafing during work
hours though not serious cyberloafing.
RQ2. Whether females and males practiced different cyberloafing activities: Serious or
RQ3. Whether different cyberloafing activities varied by age level.
RQ4. Whether different cyberloafing activities varied by education level.
RQ5. Whether different cyberloafing activities varied by status.
Discussion and Results
In this study, respondents’ rate of using internet for academic purposes was
relatively high (M=3,57), second highest internet using was visiting news sites (M=3,56);
and third was for non-work e-mails (M=3,28), (See figure 2). This indicates that our
respondents were mostly involved with minor cyberloafing activities during working
hours (Table 2). In other words, respondents’ purpose of using internet was mainly for
academic search, visiting news sites and sending non-work e-mails. On the other hand,
the highest rate of serious cyberloafing activity included joining social network sites such
as Facebook and Twitter (M=2,18). The lowest form of cyberloafing activity included
online gambling (M=1.12), (See figure 3).
Figure 2: Means of Minor Cyberloafing Figure 3: Means of Serious Cyberloafing
1,0 Mean Mean
Send non Search for Using Visit news Online
work e- academic internet for sites banking
mail purpose general
To measure the effects of socio demographic variables such as gender, age, education and
work status on cyberloafing, we used T test and one way ANOVA.
Table 3: Gender by Using Internet
t- Values Sig. Mean
Send non-work e-mail 2,148 0,034 3,58 3,05
Using internet for general purpose 2,378 0,019 3,49 2,95
Chatrooms 3,322 0,001 2,27 1,53
*Significant level for T Test and One Way ANOVA accepted at α=0,05.
It was observed that gender indicated a significant difference regarding using
internet for non-work e-mail (p=0,034), for surfing general purposes (p=0,019) and for
chat rooms (p=0,001). According to our data, female respondents used internet for non-
work e-mail, surfing for general purposes and chat rooms more than male respondents
In addition, the results indicated that age did not show any significant difference
Table 4: Education by Cyberloafing
F- Values Sig.
Send non-work e-mail 5,056 ,008
Search for academic purpose 24,064 ,000
Visit news sites 4,063 ,020
Online shopping 3,166 ,046
Online banking 14,983 ,000
Vacation or travel booking 5,876 ,004
Visiting adult sites 4,319 ,016
*Significant level for T Test and One Way ANOVA accepted as α=0,05.
It was observed that the education level showed a significant difference in
cyberloafing activities. According to our results, education level had a significant effect
on non-work e-mail (p=0,008), academic search (p=0,000), news sites (p=0,020), online
shopping (p=0,046), online banking (p=0,000), travel booking (p=0,004), and visiting
adult sites (p= 0,016) (Table 4).
For example, of the respondents who had a postgraduate degree used internet for
non-work e-mail more than the respondents with undergraduate degrees (MD=0,790);
moreover respondents who had a postgraduate degree used internet for academic
purposes more than respondents with undergraduate degrees (MD=1,578) and with a high
school education level or below (MD=2,073).
Another piece of important data dealing with postgraduate level was the use of
internet for online shopping. The respondents with postgraduate degrees used the internet
more than the respondents with a high school education level or below (MD=0,920). The
education level of our respondents using internet for online banking was higher than the
other groups. For example, the respondents who had a postgraduate education using
internet for online banking was more than the respondents with undergraduate
(MD=0,928), and a high school education level or below (MD=2,547). Moreover,
respondents with undergraduate level education using internet for online banking was
more than respondents with a high school education level or below (MD=1,619). Another
important difference regarding using internet for travel booking was also observed
amongst our groups or respondents. The respondents who had a postgraduate degree
using internet for travel booking were more than respondents with undergraduate degrees
(MD=0,679) and respondents with a high school education level or below (MD=1,014).
On the other hand, respondents with a high school education level or below using internet
for visiting news sites was more than respondents with undergraduate level education
(MD=1,119). In addition, respondents with a high school education level or below
showed a difference related to visiting adult sites. This group visited these sites more than
the respondents with undergraduate (MD=0.822) and postgraduate level education
Table 5: Work Status by Cyberloafing
F- Values Sig.
Send non-work e-mail 8,291 ,000
Search for academic purpose 31,492 ,000
Using internet for general purpose 6,814 ,002
Visit news sites 3,255 ,043
Online shopping 4,881 ,010
Online banking 5,133 ,008
Chatrooms 5,306 ,007
Joining Facebook and Twitter e.g. 4,114 ,020
*Significant level for T Test and One Way ANOVA accepted as α=0,05.
Concerning the effects of work status on cyberloafing; it was observed that work
status created differences in using non-work e-mail (p=0,000), academic search
(p=0,000), general purpose surfing (p=0,002), visiting new sites (p=0,043), online
shopping (p=0,010), online banking (p=0,008), chat rooms (p=0,007) and entering
communication sites such as Facebook and Twitter (p=0,020) (Table 5).
For example, of the respondents who work in the private sector used less non-
work e-mail than senior academics (MD=-1,120) and junior academics (MD=-0,873).
Moreover, private sector respondents used internet for academic purpose less than senior
academics (MD=-1,947) and junior academics (MD=-1,348).
The same attitude was also observed related to general purpose of internet
surfing. For example, private sector respondents using internet for general purpose was
less than senior academics (MD=-0,753) and junior academics (MD=-1,024). Another
important finding related to the internet use in organizations showed that senior lecturers
entered visiting news sites more than private sector respondents (MD=0,642). On the
other hand, junior academics using internet for online shopping was more than private
sector respondents (MD=0,868). When we consider online banking senior academics
used internet more than private sector respondents (MD=0,995). Again with regard to
chat rooms, junior academics used internet more than senior academics (MD=0,871) and
more than respondents in private sector (MD=0,842). Regarding using Facebook and
Twitter, junior academics used internet more than private sector employees (MD=0,870).
DISCUSSION AND LIMITATIONS
The purpose of this study was to determine the forms of cyberloafing in two
organizations: private sector and university sector. We identified two forms of
cyberloafing: (a) minor-cyberloafing consisting of sending and receiving personal e-mail
at work as well as surfing mainstream news and online banking or shopping; and (b)
serious cyberloafing consisting of visiting adult oriented web sites, online gambling,
games, chat rooms and downloading music, video or films.
Similar to previous findings (Lim&Teo, 2005), respondents in our study reported
engaging in the minor form of cyberloafing much more frequently than engaging in the
serious form of cyberloafing (Blanchard and Henle, 2008).
We noted in our survey that most of our respondents reported receiving, checking
and sending e-mail quite frequently as well as visiting news. This was because for most
of the senior and junior academic lecturers the most common internet using activity was
for academic purposes. In addition, participants engaged in online gambling (M=1,12)
and job hunting (M=1,26) was the least forms of serious cyberloafing activities. Thus, the
minor forms of cyberloafing were more typical in organizations than the more serious
forms of cyberloafing. It is also important to mention that gender, education and work
status indicated a difference in cyberloafing behavior. According to our findings
employees who engaged in minor or serious cyberloafing did not think that more
powerful people up the organizational hierarchy would catch their inappropriate behavior.
If they did, they would be less likely to engage in cyberloafing. According to our study
the respondents who cyberloafed believed that the chance of getting caught was a matter
of bad luck (Blanchard and Henle, 2008). But still we suggest that organizations need to
develop and announce policies as well as implement enforcement mechanisms. For an
example, monitoring software could be used to track employees’ e-mail and internet
activity and determine any inappropriate use. This would remove employee perception:
Chances of getting caught for unacceptable activity is considered a matter of bad luck.
Moreover, monitoring activities need to be followed up with disciplinary actions,
especially for serious cyberloafing so that appropriateness of these activities can be
reinforced (Blanchard and Henle, 2008). When developing these policies organizations
need to consider how stringent they want to be. Organizations must decide how much
minor cyberloafing and what forms of cyberloafing would be allowed. As we know minor
cyberloafing may be effective in reducing stress, balancing work and family, networking
and so forth. Recently, the universities internet usage policy to combat inappropriate use
has been increasingly tough, especially toward non teaching staff. Under that policy, the
university uses software that monitors internet usage. Despite the fact that some
individuals have been warned about cyberloafing, they continue to take a chance and
exercise cyberloafing. In addition to this development in the university, Turkish High
Court of Cassation recently reached two important decisions about cyberloafing. With
these decisions the Court agreed upon that any employee who had been caught by serious
cyberloafing, for example entering gambling sites, online shopping or visited adult sites
should be discharged. The court also refused the claims of these employees to reinstate to
their work (HCC Ninth Legal Circle D. 04.05.2009, E. 2008/36305, Decision 2009/12363
and D. 10.10.2006, E. 2006/19150, Decision 2006/26792).
Yet more research has to be conducted about employees who engage in
cyberloafing. Our study was just a preliminary research to cover the topic of cyberloafing
in Turkey. Future research should be done to understand serious cyberloafing as a
counter-productive work behavior and to examine other variables of interest in this area
of research. In addition, more research needs to be done in topics such as cyberloafing
and environmental factors or cyberloafing and personality traits.
All research has limitations. In our study one limitation was that our sample size
was not large enough to make generalizations. We can only make some suggestions.
Second, we did not examine the reasons why employees cyberloafed. It is possible that
employees who are bored and/or stressed with their work are likely to use cyberloafing as
“an office toy” to escape from mundane work (Anandrajan and Simmers, 2005). In this
case, cyberloafing offers employees a break, allowing them to “zone out” and refocus
their attention on work demands. Thus, whether cyberloafing results in gain or drain on
work can be further explored by examining what motivates people to engage in
cyberloafing (Lim&Chen, 2009).
In conclusion, cyberloafing is likely to continue in organizations for the
foreseeable future. We can fully expect technological applications to continue to develop
and become available in the modern work place. This signifies that cyberloafing will
become more prominent and not less. Thus, we need further empirical analysis to better
understand cyberloafing and how it should be controlled or accommodated in the work
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