MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
February 2016
The Internet and Productivity

 
Some say yes, some say no. Depending on which side of the fence you're on, you either believe that the Internet has improved productivity or it has decreased it. However, a tool like the Internet does not deserve all the credit (or discredit, depending on your point of view). It boils down to how we use the Internet.
 
Will Little, designer and creator of Webtrate (now known as Stop Procrastinating), says: "The Internet plays into our worst habits. Despite its many benefits, it is helping to fuel procrastination and lower levels of productivity by giving us access to an immediate menu of instant distractions." Will's take on the Internet may be correct.
 
A survey of 2,500 respondents by Webtrate in 2013 found the following:
 
  • Over half of individuals admitted that checking their email and social media when working revealed a worrying lack of impulse control
  • About 63 percent said they lost their chain of thought because they checked and responded to email or social media alerts while working on a report or longer piece of written work
  • Checking email and social media cost 36 percent of respondents more than an hour each day in productivity; 16 percent claim to have lost more than an hour
  • A reduction in happiness and satisfaction levels was noticeable for 62 percent when they realized they had been wasting time browsing
 
The problem, perhaps, is not the Internet itself, but what it has done to our time is astounding. We have acquired weak impulse control in a world of instant gratification. This is in spite of the fact that a mountain of work may be waiting for us and the employer is expecting a reasonable turnaround for completed work. As Will Little asserts, in many cases, people don't even realize how much productivity they are losing to the Internet.
 
While the Internet has downsides, it also has an obvious upside: The Internet has provided us with the capability to complete work faster. A 2014 Pew Research survey of 1,066 Internet users confirms this - 46% of respondents said that the Internet improved their work productivity. However, almost one-third of these users also said that they work longer days because of the enabling technology of the Internet.
 
The bottom line is that the Internet can be an incredibly useful tool to improve work productivity, but it is up to the user to self-monitor and self-regulate for maximal output.
Using Social Media to Improve Business
 
Is it possible to improve business by using social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and others? The answer is an overwhelming yes.
 
While social media sites started out as, well, social; they have evolved to help businesses build and reinforce their brand image. They are no longer just for connecting with Uncle George and Aunt Helen or your BFF, but social media have become bona fide business media tools.
 
Building brand and strategy are common to all businesses, but using social media has not yet hit the mainstream in business. However, if building business, awareness and profits are your business concerns, here are some things to consider:
 
  • 63 percent of millennials say they stay updated on brands through social networks
  • 46 percent of millennials rely on social media when making purchases online
  • 89 percent of 18-29 year olds are active on social media
  • Marketers spent about $8.3 billion on social media advertising in 2015
  • 78 percent of companies now say they have dedicated social media teams
 
If the above stats aren't convincing you to build your business profile on social media, you are doing your business a disservice. But if you'd like to build your presence on the Internet, check out the suggestions by Small Business Trends on how to use social media for your business.
 
Social media helps businesses engage with their customers and it also helps them discover what customers really think about their business. For more information on how to use social media for business, check out Dominque Jackson's blog on Sprout Social.
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
Technology is changing the way we work; usually for the better. However, technology is also creating new stressors in the form of Internet addictions. If you have a Facebook page or Twitter account, it is so easy to spend all day on either of these two sites. We seem to crave the "love" of our friends and followers, to show them that we are awesome and to immediately respond with "Likes" and reply tweets because, of course, we care what our network thinks. What's happening, in reality, is avoidance of other work that really will make a difference in our lives. While the Internet has its many merits, it has also usurped and changed forever the way we use our time. IMHO.
 
"The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect."
- Esther Dyson

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Extreme Profits is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing how leaders can be more efficient and areas where organizations can save more money. 

 

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