This study came out a couple months ago, when I working on the revisions to Rest, so I didn’t write about it then, but it’s still quite timely: it’s a project by Arizona State researchers to measure “cyberloafing” (i.e., using work time and resources for things other than work) and the efficacy of countermeasures against it.

Here’s the abstract:

The goal of this study is to explore and analyze the effectiveness of a possible countermeasure to the so-called “cyberloafing” problem involving a technical solution of Internet filtering and monitoring. Through a multi-theoretical lens, we utilize operant conditioning and individuals’ psychological morals of procedural justice and social norms to study the effectiveness of this countermeasure in addressing the associated agency problem and in promoting compliance with an organization’s Internet usage policies. We find that in addition to the blocking module, confirmation and quota modules of an Internet filtering and monitoring system can prevent shirking and promote better compliance through employee empowerment and attention resource replenishment.

The idea is that while there are sites that people definitely need as part of their work– workplace compliance rules, training materials, stock prices, etc.– there’s plenty of stuff that’s also either of questionable utility, eats up bandwidth, or can actually raise liability issues for a company; but that just banning sites is less effective a deterrent to cyberloafing than getting people to identify what kinds of material is useful, and what’s not.

[Citation: Jeremy Glassman, Marilyn Prosch, Benjamin B.M. Shao, “To monitor or not to monitor: Effectiveness of a cyberloafing countermeasure,” Information & Management 52:2 (March 2015), 170–182.]