Folks have some pretty strong feelings about Facebook at work and its time-sucking potential. For proof, see my post from June in which I express my incredulity that some young folks responding to a survey said they'd consider quitting their jobs if denied access to Facebook at the office. I obviously touched a collective nerve, as seen from the long list of folks (150-plus) who weighed in with comments, pro and con.
More recently, IT Business Edge blogger Paul Mah wrote about whether it's a good idea to allow workers to engage in multiplayer, online role-playing games at work. His excellent post launched from one I wrote in which I asked whether some companies hesitated to hire gamers because they worry that late nights, lots of Red Bull and other game-related habits might adversely impact productivity.
Then I see this: a new Nielsen online study that finds 65 percent of online viewers watch YouTube from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays when (presumably) lots of them are at work. That compares to 51 percent of folks who watch YouTube during those same hours on weekends.
In an ironic twist, I saw it just after following a link e-mailed to me by a coworker that led me to a short YouTube clip of a dog playing in the snow. (It's more entertaining than it sounds.) Said coworker tells me her son is suspicious of her ample knowledge of popular YouTube videos. "Don't you get any work done?" he asks her.
Well. I probably watch one to three YouTube clips a day at work. And I check in to Facebook at lunch. But I don't think those habits hamper my productivity any more than the oddly compelling USB Christmas Tree handed out by a coworker earlier today or the shrimp ring that I know is waiting in the kitchen for a party later this afternoon. Sometimes a YouTube break even helps me deal with the dreaded writer's block.
Realistically, I don't think we can expect to work constantly while we are at the office. I see no harm in taking a few minutes for non-work diversions on a work PC. If a few minutes turns into a few hours (a day, not a week as in the press releases where companies that make filtering software tally up the annual time lost to Facebook et al), then that's a problem.