Just read an article about a research done by University of Melbourne claiming that workplace Internet leisure browsing (WILB) actually increases employee productivity! At first I thought it was an April Foolâ€™s joke but it wasnâ€™t.
The article makes so much sense! I think about companies that block websites like Gmail, Hotmail, YouTube, and Facebook so that their employees can focus solely on work. In theory, thatâ€™s supposed to boost productivity, but does it really?
It should be common sense that a happy employee = increased productivity. That should be the first thing managers need to know about managing people and work productivity.
Unfortunately, many companies just donâ€™t get it. Management often come up with all sorts of policies to monitor, restrict, punish, and/or penalize employees regarding X, Y, and Z. Some companies deduct your salary if youâ€™re late to work. Some companies block certain websites while others block Internet access altogether. Some companies even screen emails and phone calls! My last employer held back one teacherâ€™s paycheck because she didnâ€™t return a stapler at the end of the year. And my last apartment building management used public humiliation as a way to get their tenants in order.
Thatâ€™s the kind of penny-pinching, morale-lowering micromanagement that increases employee turnover rate, not productivity!
Happy Employees = Increased Productivity!
Thankfully, National Instruments is the kind of company that makes its employees happy working at NI. The IT department does not block websites or restrict any Internet access. Matter of fact, weâ€™re all administrators of our own computer! With the exception of P2P software, we can install any legal software we want. If we wanted to install World of Warcraft, we could!
Not that I want to broadcast this to the whole world (not to mention that my managers read my blog sometimes), but I do check my personal emails at work and occasionally work on non-work related stuff. I donâ€™t spend a significant amount of time doing personal stuff, but sometimes I get urgent emails or matters that require immediate attention. Or I need to call the bank or book a flight or schedule a doctorâ€™s appointment. Or maybe I just need a little pick-me-upper in the afternoon when Iâ€™m about to arrive at Planet Comatose. For me, being able to balance work and life (and sometimes integrate them) makes an employee like me happy, efficient, productive, and willing to put in overtime when crunch time comes.
A professional is not just somebody who puts in exactly 8 consecutive hours of work everyday, but someone who owns a project and does everything needed to make sure the job gets done with the highest quality. How the job is done, managers need to trust and respect that their employees will do the job. If that means letting employees take a mental break occasionally with a game of Solitaire, an article from their RSS reader, a 10-minute power nap, a good laugh watching a YouTube video, or even, dropping by their kidâ€™s birthday party at school, let them do so. As long as the work/project gets done, thereâ€™s no reason to chain them to the desk under surveillance and tight scrutiny.
As you can see, Iâ€™m a huge fan of companies that promote project ownership and honor work flexibility. When employees are treated and respected as a professional, then they are more likely to be happy, productive, and loyal.
Happy employees = increased productivity!
Blogging on Company Time
Now something else to think about besides surfing the web on company time. What about blogging on company time? Tom Johnson wrote an excellent post about technical communicators as corporate bloggers. Technical writers are perfect candidates for blogging about company products from a personal, technical, as well as usability perspective.
In the first place, many technical communicators have strong writing backgrounds and often aspire to write novels and pursue other literary endeavors. They usually turn to technical writing as a means of financial sustenance only. For these individuals, the blog format can provide a paradise for their creative side. It can be a format that provides a needed break from procedural writing and gives them the variety they need for a more creatively fulfilling career.
Secondly, technical writers are free from the marketing/business speak that permeates marketing writers. Intimately familiar with the companyâ€™s products, technical writers can provide tips, tricks, and other informative insights that many marketing writers arenâ€™t aware of, and they can write it in an honest language void of hype. More informative content written in a refreshingly honest voice better aligns with the purposes for which most people use the Internet: to research, to learn.
Maybe blogging on company time does not increase productivity in the sense that less time is spent on the work of documentation. But people in the technical communication profession know that the actual writing of content takes up maybe 10 percent of our work day. Most of the time is spent doing research, working with developers, attending product meetings, reviewing designs, and improving product usability. Documentation is only a small component. The greater role is defined and presented in the usability of the final product.
Technical writers who blog about their work, documentation/software process, product(s), usability, technical aspects, tips, tricks, and what not, challenges, provide a refreshingly new perspective about a company, its products, and its employees. In a way, this type of corporate blogging promotes an open channel of communication between users, potential customers, potential employees, other developers, and other technical communicators. Granted, too much honesty and openness could potentially lead to some nasty legal/intellectual property issues as well as negative publicity. However, the flipside to having an honest, corporate voice out in the open could lead to better products, customer loyalty, happier technical writers (who canâ€™t wait to exercise their creative writing skills), and increased popularity in the world of Web2.0. Perhaps, blogging might become the future of extending product usability beyond documentation.
So can blogging on company time boost productivity, sales, marketability, and usability? Definitely!
Note: In case any of you are curious to know, Iâ€™m not being paid to blog here. 99% of the posts on this blog are written on my own time, not company time. I do take a few seconds during the work day to jot down ideas though.
- Typical Day (2)
- Year in Review: My First Year as a Technical Writer (4)
- Sitting Near the Content Experts (4)
- A New Domain: Shanghai Tech Writer (3)
- Typical Day as a Technical Writer at NI Shanghai (11)
- Top 10 Workspace Configurations (3)
Originally posted by Susan at http://www.shanghaitechwriter.com/2009/04/23/surfing-the-web-during-work-boosts- productivity/