Report: Employees' online idling costing Czech firms billions

Photo: Philippe Ramakers / Stock.XCHNG

Czech companies lose enormous amounts of money annually due to their staff spending time on Facebook and other websites instead of working, claims a freshly released study. Indeed, the report’s findings suggest that the average office worker in the Czech Republic is devoting around an hour a day to mucking about on the internet.

Photo: Philippe Ramakers / Stock.XCHNG
Every year, firms in the Czech Republic lose a whopping CZK 180 billion, or over USD 9 billion, due to the fact that their employees use Facebook and other social networking sites, browse the web and write personal emails. On average, workers spend some 12 percent of their working day in this way.

So claims Sodatsw, a Brno-based data firm. Other companies hire Sodatsw to use its special software, which is completely legal, to monitor their staff’s computer use. The aim is to establish employees’ productivity – including how much time they devote to doing their jobs, and how much to personal matters.

Sodatsw say it has extrapolated the figures in the new report from its work for many companies around the Czech Republic. Martin Hanzal is its executive director.

“Naturally, the employer pays for that time. This doesn’t apply to all kinds of work, of course. But if we take an official at a state office, or an employee at a manufacturing company, whose job is to carry out work for their employer, and they spend on average of 12 percent of their time not doing what they are paid to do, that of course represents a loss for the employer. If they don’t do their job, their value to the employer is reduced.”

Facebook and other such sites are the biggest distraction for office workers today, the research suggests, with online gaming no longer as common a time-thief as it used to be.

But surely prior to the omniscience of the internet and its infinite diversions, people can’t have done nothing but work for eight hours a day?

Martin Hanzal,  photo: archive of Sodatsw
“I’m sure they sinned in other ways. Or used their time in other ways. But today people work with the internet on all kinds of devices. They deal with a lot of matters online, and many things distract them and grab their attention. For instance, they don’t need to buy a newspaper, they just go online. They don’t need to call their friend to ask what they did the previous evening. It’s really easy, so they spend more time not working.”

Martin Hanzal says once employees become aware that their computer use is being monitored they immediately spend far less time mucking about on the web.

As for the rules at his own firm, he says that – as his team do creative work – around 5 percent internet “time-wasting” is acceptable.