Goldbricking is the practice of doing less work than one is able to, while maintaining the appearance of working. 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. A modern example is staff who use their work internet access for personal reasons, which can lead to inefficiency. Goldbricking online is referred to as cyberslacking or cyberloafing.
A 1999 report estimated that cyberslacking cost employers in the United States $1 billion a year in computer resources. Instances of goldbricking increased markedly when broadband Internet connections became commonplace in workplaces. Before that, the slow speed of dial-up connections meant that spending work time browsing on the internet 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.
Smartphones have greatly reduced the need for employees to use company computers/Internet access for personal matters, also making it harder for companies to restrict or track workers' Internet activity.
Goldbricking became a mainstream topic when Yahoo! announced in late February 2013 that it was banning the practice of telecommuting because it discovered its remote employees were not logging into the corporate VPN often enough.
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.
- Counterproductive work behavior
- Goofing off
- Internet addiction disorder
- Interruption science
- List of confidence tricks
- Work aversion
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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 Archived 2015-01-24 at Archive.today
- 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)