UK businesses could lose billions of pounds in lost productivity as a result of banning office "e-breaks".
A report from online "casual games" provider PopCap Games says the trend towards banning personal internet use in the workplace could result in a decline in staff productivity.
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The report, which relies on psychometric tests, says that taking a 10-minute online break during the course of the working day serves to reduce stress and sharpens and refocuses the mind.
With seven out of 10 companies - including Credit Suisse and British Gas - banning access to social networking sites, and many considering banning personal internet access altogether, the PopCap Break Report 2008 highlights the negative impact these moves could have on the UK economy.
For the report, psychometric trials were carried out on a cross section of UK businesses, under the supervision of Goldsmiths University psychologist Chamorro-Premuzic. They measured the comparative effect of different types of online breaks on employees' performances.
The results revealed that if bosses actively encouraged employees to take one 10 minute e-break in the working day their overall productivity levels would increase.
"Tea-breaks and fag breaks have long been the most common types of break within office culture, but the report shows that e-breaks are fast becoming the most popular choice of break for British workers", said Chamorro-Premuzic.
"The report proves that a 10 minute e-break a day can have significant benefits, but, despite this, many bosses are banning them in the fear that they distract employees.
"By factoring in a dedicated slot for an e-break bosses are fostering a more trusting working environment, boosting productivity and ultimately increasing their profit, which surely makes good business sense," he said.