Feeling distracted at work today? Blame the annual shift to daylight saving time.
Scientists are predicting the loss of an hour to the annual time shift -- and its accompanying loss of sleep – will cause employees to spend more time than normal surfing the Web for content unrelated to their work, based on past studies of Internet-use trends.
Web searches related to entertainment rise sharply the Monday after the shift to daylight saving time when compared to the preceding and subsequent Mondays, according to researchers who analyzed six years’ worth of Google data. That trend results in “massive productivity losses,” according to the study led by Penn State’s Smeal College of Business published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Based on the findings of many studies that show people have poorer self-control when they're tired, the researchers said that the lost sleep due to the time change -- an average of 40 minutes -- makes employees more inclined to spend time “cyberloafing,” or surfing the Internet for personal pursuits while on the clock.
Investigators also conducted a lab experiment in which they monitored subjects' sleep the night before they watched a boring lecture online. The less sleep they received the night before, the more time they spent surfing the Web when they were supposed to be watching the lecture.
Interruptions in sleep had the same effect, the study found. Test subjects on average engaged in more than 8 minutes more of cyberloafing for every hour of interrupted sleep the night before.
While a few minutes of personal Web surfing while on the clock may seem harmless, researchers said their finding suggest the "global productivity losses from a spike in employee cyberloafing are potentially staggering."