The Washington Post

Your boss uses Facebook at work more than you do


Anyone who's ever tried to hide their Facebook use at work should take heart in this news: Your boss may be looking at social media during office hours more than you are.

A new study by researchers in Norway, reported recently in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, surveyed more than 11,000 employees about their views on cyberslacking at work. It found that top-level managers were more likely to disapprove of looking at social media sites during office hours, despite that research has shown its advantages. Yet they also reported spending significantly more time on such sites at work than those who sit lower in the pecking order.

Why the contradiction? The researchers weren't sure, but speculated in a piece posted on an Association for Psychological Science blog that it could be because top managers have relatively longer working hours. Also possible: They may be more interested in social media as a way of promoting their careers than those who are in non-managerial roles. Or — perhaps most likely — they're less fearful of losing their jobs.

The survey asked the respondents a variety of other questions about their Facebook and Twitter use at work, such as what kind of restrictions their employers put on the sites (the numbers suggest such policies actually work). It also examined how respondents' age, gender and personality type affect how much they are willing to cyberloaf. Unsurprisingly, younger people are more apt to use social media at work, as are single people (versus those in a relationship) and people with higher education levels. Men, the study found, spend more time on social media at work than women do.

The study also claims to be the first to look at what kind of personality types check social media most often on the job. The researchers asked a few personality questions in the survey to help label the respondents as one of five personality types: extroverted, neurotic, agreeable, conscientious or intellect/imagination. Extroverts and neurotics were most likely to say they think it's okay to spend time on Facebook and Twitter at work; they also reported actually spending more time doing so.

Finally, the survey asked people about the demands and challenges of their job. Those who had heavy workloads and those who said their days were filled with interesting challenges reported using social media less. (Again, no surprise here.) But while it's encouraging to hear that meaningful work might help keep people on task, it also makes us wonder about those top managers. Either they don't have enough work to do, or they're bored.

Read also:

The best (and worst) times to do things at work

Why people pick boring jobs

Like On Leadership? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Next Story
Jena McGregor · July 10, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.