Goldbricking, also known in computer-related tasks as cyberslacking or cyberloafing, generally refers to an employee doing less work than they theoretically could. A modern example is staff who use their work internet access for personal reasons while maintaining the appearance of working, which can lead to inefficiency. The term originates from the confidence trick of applying a gold coating to a brick of worthless metal—while the worker may appear industrious on the surface, in reality they are less valuable.
Some estimate goldbricking costs employers $1 billion a year in computer resources.
Instances of goldbricking have increased markedly since broadband Internet connections became commonplace in workplaces. Before that the slow speed of dial-up connections meant that the practice was rarely worthwhile. Many firms employ surveillance software to track employees' Internet activity in an effort to limit liability and improve productivity. Other methods used to reduce goldbricking include installation of proxy servers to prevent programs from accessing resources like Internet Relay Chat, AOL Instant Messenger, or some online gambling services, strict disciplinary measures for employees found goldbricking, and carrot and stick measures like providing free or subsidized Internet access for employees outside of working hours.
Goldbricking became a mainstream topic when Yahoo! announced in late February of 2013 that it was banning the practice of telecommuting because it discovered its remote employees were not logging into the corporate VPN often enough.
Alternate views on 'cyberloafing'
Research has indicated that permitting employees to utilize computer resources for personal use actually increases productivity. A study by the National University of Singapore entitled Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement concluded that using the internet for personal use served the same purpose as a coffee break and helped workers concentrate and stay engaged.
- Work aversion
- Goofing off
- Interruption science
- Counterproductive work behavior
- Internet addiction disorder
- List of confidence tricks
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- "The Old Joel on Software Forum - How much surveillance is too much?". Discuss.fogcreek.com. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- "AllThingsD; CFO Goldman Says Mayer Regime Has Been Improving "Quality of Life" at Yahoo". AllThingsD.com. 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-06-12.
- hcamag.com article
- Lim, Vivien K. G. and Chen, Don J. Q.(2009) 'Cyberloafing at the workplace: gain or drain on work?', Behaviour & Information Technology,, First published on: 11 November 2009 (iFirst)