UK employees spend 40 per cent of their day 'cyberloafing' - surfing the internet and sending e-mails - according to a new survey by employment law firm Peninsula.
The survey of 3,245 workers across 750 employers also suggests that the average length of time spent cyberloafing has risen by an hour over the past year as personal Internet usage has embraced all ages and cultures.
Almost all the employees surveyed - 97 per cent - admitted they used the internet for personal use rather than work, spending an average of three hours a day each surfing the web.
Peninsula MD Peter Done said: “Employers are losing time and money in order for employees to check their e-mails or surf the net to find something of interest.
"These results prove that employers are unaware as to how significant the problem is for their businesses, and depending on the size of the company the problems may alter in real significance from bad to severe," he said.
But fewer than one in ten of the managers surveyed said they believed that company e-mail and internet facilities were being widely abused while nine out of ten of firms do not have any systems in place to monitor employees' use of the Internet.
Other research has suggested that some one in three companies have disciplined staff for cyberloafing - with the most common breaches of internet and email usage policies involving indecent or inappropriate content such as pornography.
Meanwhile, a survey earlier this month by Silicon.com suggested that cyberloafing is symptomatic of employees feeling unmotivated and not being challenged in their jobs.
While cyberloafing was cited by more than one in five (23 per cent) of respondents to the poll as the main obstacle to a productive workforce, a third said that 'low staff morale and lack of motivation' was a bigger issue, leading Silicon to suggest that bosses and the HR departments have some way to go if they want to get the most out of their staff.
Other research from Holland even suggests that cyber-loafing workers are more productive than non-loafing colleagues because they prioritise and manage their workloads better and reduce stress by enjoying their day more.