Employers should brace themselves for a less-than-productive upcoming Monday.
A study by Penn State University assistant professor D. Lance Ferris found that the annual shift to daylight saving time, which occurs early Sunday morning, and its accompanying loss of sleep, drives workers to spend more time than normal surfing the Web, resulting in potentially massive productivity losses.
Online searches related to entertainment rise sharply the Monday after the daylight saving shift when compared to the preceding and subsequent Mondays, the research revealed.
Using existing data that shows people exhibit poorer self-control when they're tired, Ferris and his co-authors from Singapore Management University, Virginia Tech University and the National University of Singapore said the lost sleep due to the time change — an average of 40 minutes — makes employees less likely to self-regulate their behavior and more inclined to spend time online while on the clock.
Beyond Monday’s productivity drop, the study has implications for employers who regularly cut into their staff's sleep time by trying to squeeze as much out of them as possible.
"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," the researchers wrote in the Journal of Applied Psychology. "Managers may find that by avoiding infringement on employee sleep, they will get more productivity out of their employees."
Employers can facilitate more self-regulation of employees' "cyberloafing" if they encourage their workers to get a sufficient amount of sleep, according to the study. Outside of that, the researchers recommend turning computer screens so that colleagues can see them or even providing designated break times when personal Internet use would be permissible.
The research was based on an examination of six years’ worth of data from Google.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter and now works as a freelance business and technology reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.