With the Internet instantly available on your work computer, it can be very hard to resist the call of cyberspace. The Internet can be addictive. However, you can channel your workplace Internet surfing in a direction that can help your career. Like many things in your career, the keys to successful workplace web surfing are prioritization, time management, focus and compliance. When you prioritize your web surfing appropriately, manage the times you surf and the amount of time you surf, focus your web surfing, and comply with company policies, your Internet addiction can actually be transformed into a career asset.
First, web surfing has a place in your overall list of priorities. That place should be at the bottom of your daily priority list. Instead of web surfing at the start of your workday, you should put off any workplace web surfing until other priorities are handled. Typically, the best times for web surfing are at lunchtime, at the end of the day, and during controlled break times. It’s important that you do and be seen doing your most important work tasks during the prime work times of the day. No one wants to find you web surfing when an important work deliverable is due or an important work task is still undone.
Second, time management is vital when it comes to workplace web surfing. You simply cannot let the time you spend surfing eat up a large portion of your working day. Web surfing has to be time boxed with a specific start and end time. The length of your surfing sessions should be short and measurable in minutes. Surfing for 5 to 10 minutes is a controlled measured time box. Web surfing for an hour or two is an inexcusable waste of company time and resources.
Third, since you are web surfing on company time and computing resources, your web surfing should be focused on sites that will help you professionally and your company in the long term. For example, if you are a software quality assurance professional, it would make sense for your web surfing to hit websites that have a strong focus on quality assurance and software testing. You’ll be learning industry best practices, new techniques, and new technologies that are directly relevant to your performance in the workplace. You can use Internet forums to ask questions that are directly related to workplace issues. You can find out about new products that would make you more productive in your job. When you learn of new work approaches, you can speak intelligently about them with your peers and supervisors. Your web surfing will be a win-win for you and your employer. Ultimately, this kind of focused professional web surfing can make you a more valuable asset in the workplace.
Fourth and finally, if you surf the web at work, you need to make sure that you comply with all company policies. If you lose your focus on professional web surfing and violate company web use policies, you can diminish your workplace credibility and harm your professional reputation. If you are seen surfing inappropriately, you may be tagged as a slacker. If you are seen surfing job search sites, you will be thought of as an unhappy job seeker with questionable loyalty. It goes without saying that if you visit pornographic or other offensive websites, you can get in real trouble and will probably lose your job. At the very least, you may offend co-workers, alienate bosses, and expose your work computer to viruses and other security threats. It’s best to limit yourself to professional websites and possibly a very mainstream news media site. You should also know that network administrators can monitor your web use, track the time you spend, see the sites that you visit, and develop reports for management.
Ultimately, if you are disciplined enough to prioritize your workplace web surfing, manage your web time, focus on professional sites, and comply with company policies, you should be able to convert your web addiction to a workplace strength.