Woo Hoo! Watching Videos at Work Can Make You More Productive

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More Productive There was a time when you had to turn the volume of your computer way down and stifle your laughter, so your colleagues, and especially your boss, wouldn't realize you were goofing off with the latest video gone viral on YouTube. But a new study, done at the University of Copenhagen, suggests that this kind of behavior can actually help you do a better job.

If this information sounds like a crazy Danish import, know that it was featured in the esteemed publication The New Yorker, so you can be assured that it's no joke. Researchers found that workers did a better job on a specific task after they were shown a funny video.

To measure this, participants were divided into two groups and both were asked to perform the simple task of watching videos of people passing balls and to count the number of passes. But each group was first presented with a different distraction. One group saw a funny video come up on their screens. The other group saw a message telling them that a funny video was available if they clicked a button, but they were told it was against policy to watch it.

People in the second group could hear the others laughing at the video. When the time was up, researchers noted that those who did watch the video made fewer mistakes. It seems that concentrating on following company policy and not clicking that button was more of distraction than the watching the funny video. The decision about whether or not to follow company policy followed them into the task and kept them from focusing.

The New Yorker concludes that "forcing Internet-addicted employees to go cold turkey may make them less productive, not more." It seems that giving in to the distraction and getting on with it is more productive than being tempted by the distraction when you're doing your other work.

Wouldn't you know the folks at Google have realized this for some time now? Time's Techland reports that Google gives their employees "20 percent time," allowing them to do whatever they want for a fifth of the day. They hope the time will be spent doing something creative, rejuvenating, restful, or just plain practical, so they'll be less distracted when they settle down and focus on their work.

So while you might think this would give you permission to open up those wacky attachments your friends send you at work, know that your boss may not be as enlightened as you are. Before you start LOL-ing, show this article to him or her.


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