March 8, 2012 10:59 am

Daylight Saving Time leads to ‘massive productivity losses,’ study says

TORONTO – The world will be a little brighter, but a lot less productive by the end of the work day next Monday, American scientists say.

Early Sunday morning, clocks will spring ahead by one hour for Daylight Saving Time and researchers say that by Monday, sleepy employees will be less hard-working and will likely turn to the Internet to kill time.

It’s called “cyberloafing” at work, researchers at Penn State, Virginia Tech and Singapore University say, and it dramatically increases the Monday after Daylight Saving Time kicks in compared to preceding and subsequent Mondays.

After analyzing six years of data from Google, the researchers say that web searches linked to entertainment increased by 3.1 per cent the work day after clocks jumped ahead.

Words like “YouTube,” “Facebook” and “ESPN” spiked in the online giant’s search records.

The time change leads to about 40 minutes of lost sleep that Sunday night, but it’s also linked to about 8.4 minutes – or 20 per cent of the assigned task time – of cyberloafing every hour.

Eight minutes is small in the grand scheme of things, but the study reminds readers that about one third of the world practices Daylight Saving Time. In total, that’s a lot of company time.

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Global News

“Global productivity losses from a spike in employee cyberloafing are potentially staggering,” the authors write.

The study points to research out of the United Kingdom that showed employee web-surfing costs companies $600 million a year.

Previous research suggests that people have less self control when they’re tired, which could explain why employees end up surfing the Internet while on the clock.

In an experiment, UPenn’s Lance Ferris monitored how well people slept before they were asked to watch a boring lecture online. The less sleep subjects had the night before, the more time they spent surfing the web instead of focusing on the lecture.

The researchers say they hope their study helps managers, who are “squeezing” more and more out of fewer employees.

“In the push for high productivity, managers and organizations may cut into the sleep of employees by requiring longer work hours,” the study reads.

“This may promote vicious cycles of lost sleep, resulting in less time spent working, which could result in more frantic pushes for extended work time.

Managers may find that by avoiding infringement on employee sleep, they will get more productivity out of their employees.”
 

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