The Internet and a wide range of social media channels and media-sharing tools understandably create concerns among company leaders and HR professionals about how employees are spending their time—and the potential productivity-draining impact these tools and devices can have.
So, companies often establish policies, rules, guidelines, and sanctions in an attempt to minimize that use—but not all companies. Some are taking a diametrically opposite approach.
Encouraging Employees to Take a Break
Before the pandemic hit, Lindsey Perez, VP of operations at the Illinois Technology Association, says that more tech companies are beginning to support in-office “distractions”—from hosting viewings for March Madness and the Women’s World Cup to sending teams to escape rooms.
However, although watching a sports game or casual online shopping allows employees to take a much-needed break, company leaders should be aware of some of the tech tools available now that allow employees to look like they’re working when they’re actually slacking off.
If you still have workers in-house, you’ll want to be on the lookout for these new tools:
- The Netflix Hangouts extension for chrome can be used to watch Netflix in the office. The extension displays four screens—three screens of people who are purportedly involved in a conference call and one that appears on the bottom right-hand side of the screen that represents whatever Netflix show employees are currently bingeing.
- Hardlywork.in is a site that pulls recent Facebook posts into a realistic spreadsheet designed to fool bosses and colleagues into thinking employees are doing some sort of data analysis.
It’s important for companies to ensure their employees feel comfortable to take breaks, but leaders and employees need to understand the difference between a break and an inhibiting distraction.
A New Philosophy About ‘Slacking Off’
Years ago, employers would have made more of an effort to prevent employees from slacking off during working hours. But, considering today’s remote environment and cultural shifts brought on by the pandemic, many companies are becoming more forgiving of employees who need a time out between 9–5 p.m.
Some are even embracing such “distractions” as a mechanism for driving productivity during off hours. The philosophy is: If an employee is most productive at 2 a.m., why shouldn’t he or she have an opportunity to watch Netflix at 2 p.m.?
Yes, employers and their HR leaders and managers are understandably concerned about maintaining a productive workforce. But in a 24/7, 365 world where employees are increasingly tethered to a wide range of devices, it can be a good idea to cut them some slack by allowing them to let off a little steam during what can otherwise be frantic workdays.