Cyberloafing and Constructive Recreation

Cyberloafing and Constructive Recreation

Jo Ann Oravec (University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch374
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Abstract

“Cyberloafing” in workplace and educational contexts refers to the uses of computer-related applications and devices in ways or at times that are not directly sanctioned by employers, managers, or teachers. It has often been considered as a kind of “time theft” on the part of employees, possibly decreasing workplace and educational productivity by consuming attention, energies, and resources designated for organizational operations. In contrast, many employees and students have construed cyberloafing as a stress reliever and as support for personal wellbeing, often with the rationale that they are able to engage effectively in alternating or multitasking between and among their various work and off-work endeavors. “Constructive recreation” in contrast with cyberloafing comprises online recreation and gamification initiatives designed by employees along with managers; these initiatives are designed to be in synch with productive efforts and support the wellbeing of all organizational participants. The article analyzes research trends and public discourse related to both to cyberloafing and to constructive recreation.
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Introduction

“Cyberloafing” in workplace and educational contexts refers to the uses of computer-related applications and devices in ways or at times that are not directly sanctioned by employers, managers, or teachers. It has often been considered as a kind of “time theft” on the part of employees and students (as described in Block, 2001), possibly decreasing workplace and educational productivity by consuming attention, energies, and resources designated for organizational operations. In contrast, many employees and students have construed cyberloafing as a stress reliever and as a support for personal wellbeing, often with the rationale that they are able to engage effectively in alternating or multitasking between and among their various work and off-work endeavors (Adler & Benbunan-Fich, 2013). “Constructive recreation,” in contrast with cyberloafing, comprises online recreation and gamification initiatives that are designed by employees along with managers; these initiatives are designed to be in synch with productive efforts and support the wellbeing of all organizational participants (Oravec, 2002; 2004a). This article compares and contrasts cyberloafing processes with constructive recreation approaches, the latter involving conscientious consideration of how online leisure activities can enhance workplace and educational activity and improve organizational productivity. The article analyzes some current research trends and public discourse related to cyberloafing; it also describes some constructive recreation approaches that have been explored over the past decades.

Many recent computing technology and gamification advances have helped to blur the conceptual and pragmatic boundaries between “work” and “play,” distinctions that have great cultural variation (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011; Oravec, 2015). This article indeed focuses on cyberloafing issues within the US and UK, but international dimensions can also become especially salient in a world of globalized corporate interactions and relations. Cyberloafing practices that are acceptable in one nation may be seen in harsher lights in other places, given cultural and ethical differences that affect how work is structured and evaluated (Cheng, Li, Zhai, & Smyth, 2014; Sheikh, Atashgah, & Adibzadegan, 2015). International and regional variations in organizational approaches to cyberloafing can illuminate other significant aspects of workplace culture (Canaan Messarra, Karkoulian, & McCarthy, 2011), variations that can become salient as many organizations deal with international outsourcers or with units that are rooted in various nations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Serious Games: Games that are directly developed for the purpose of enhancing some aspect of educational, political, social, or workplace interaction. Serious games can serve to deepen the players’ understandings of some dimensions of the human experience, often providing the capability to experiment with and explore in depth different aspects of social and interpersonal interaction.

Cyberbludging (or “Cyber Bludging”): Workplace and community cyberloafing in Australia and some other nations is often labeled as “cyberbludging” ( Hernandez-Castro, 2016 ; Liaskos & Sandy, 2004 ), with the word “bludging” having the connotation of a “shirking of responsibility.”

Mindfulness: The state of engaging in c onscientious and focused attention to the current task at hand and one’s own associated mental state, or upon a limited and constrained set of stimuli.

Constructive Recreation: Recreation is “constructive” when it is in synch with pending work responsibilities, allowing individuals to use time not consumed by workplace demands in ways that equip them to face future tasks with greater energy and expanded perspectives (Oravec, 2002). Constructive recreation is also in keeping with technological constraints, as exemplified by the organizations that allow online recreation but place limits during certain hours to avoid system overload.

Gamification: Generally characterizes approaches through which video games and other technology-enhanced gaming systems (such as video games and virtual reality) are being used to transform workplace activities. Strategies for gamification can vary from simple contests to complex segments derived from familiar or newly-invented games.

Time Theft: A use of time on the job that involves matters not productively related to employer and organizational concerns. Individuals who engage in time theft can be seen as committing offenses against their employers as well as against their co-workers who must make up for their lost efforts.

Stress Reduction: Approaches to assist individuals in coping with stressors in various contexts, such as workplaces and schools. Stressors include noxious or toxic aspects of the social or physical environment as well as overbearing demands for personal performance.

Multitasking: Attempts to parcel or divide attention between or among two or more tasks. In the context of cyberloafing, this would entail attempting to engage in recreational activity at the same time one is immersed in a workplace project.

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