UK companies are losing up to £15 billion a year as workers waste hours surfing the net for holiday deals and e-mailing friends according to a survey.
The report, from internet security specialist SmoothWall, claims a third of workers waste at least one fifth of the working day searching for deals or exchanging e-mails with friends.
The survey believes that UK employees may currently be at their least productive with the holiday season looming and schools about to break up for the summer.
While in the past studies have shown that British workers have forfeited nearly £200 million of holidays by not using up their annual allowance, the current trend, according to Abta, is for only 7% of workers seem prepared to forego their summer holidays this year.
Already in 2008 research showed time-wasting at work was on the increase, with UK workers spending more than an hour and a half surfing the web for personal reasons at a cost of £10.6 billion to the economy.
The 50% hike revealed by SmoothWall shows the situation is worsening. Both men and women are equally guilty of cyber skiving with surfing the web the most popular non-work activity according to 44% followed by emailing friends, 21% and booking holidays online, 13%.
SmoothWall product manager Tom Newton said: “People have less money so it makes sense that they are going to spend more time researching their summer holidays this year. With so many people receiving pay freezes or cuts there is feeling with workers that spending half an hour here-and-there is fair game”.
He advised employers not to ban surfing but monitor web use – particularly search engine terms to separate serial cyber-skivers more responsible users.