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As 25th March approaches we may be looking forward to longer days, lighter evenings and getting home from work in the daylight. Roll on daylight saving time (DST) and the clocks finally going forward! DST brings many positives; it means we can enjoy a jog in the light after work or take the dogs out for a longer walk. However the time change can also negatively affect our productivity at work.

On Monday 26th March when you’re at work ask yourself whether you’re really being productive? Or are you instead browsing the internet to find anything to distract yourself from that massive to-do list? Well the research suggests that’s exactly what a lot of people will be doing! If you find yourself looking online to avoid anything more strenuous or complicated, then you are one of the many of us who will be cyberloafing.

Cyberloafing- or surfing the web when we could otherwise be hard at work- has been found to occur more when we’re tired and want to avoid work. Changing to DST makes people initially feel tired and strong evidence for cyberloafing following the shift to DST has been found in an experiment by psychologists from Universities in Singapore and the USA. Using six years of Google online usage data it was found that searches on entertainment-related subjects rose sharply on the Monday following the shift to DST. More specifically, an additional 3 minutes of cyberloafing was found to occur for each hour of lost sleep, or 8.4 minutes more cyberloafing for every hour of interrupted sleep.

With strong experimental support for an increase in cyberloafing following the shift to DST, it begs the question ‘what can be done about it?’. One option is to restrict access to certain websites, such as YouTube. However this will not go down well with all employees and is also much hassle! Instead, with line management support and trust being key to employee well-being and performance, why not seek to treat your staff like adults. Rules are necessary but surely results are more important. Give your staff autonomy and freedom to meet the company’s expectations in a way that suits them- and if it means allowing a little cyberloafing once in a while, so be it.

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