Techies Feel No Guilt at Using Work Time for Personal Tasks

Three quarters (76.1 percent) of IT professionals in the UK do not feel guilty about carrying out personal tasks while they are at work, according to a major new survey undertaken by The IT Job Board. The figure compares to 75.9 percent in Belgium and 81.6 percent in The Netherlands. This is the first time the online recruitment specialist has undertaken comparative research across the three countries.

Phone calls, emails and chat

About 50 percent of people in each region said they made personal phone calls. Sending non-work emails was undertaken by 61.4 percent of IT professionals in the UK, 63 percent in Belgium and 53.7 percent in The Netherlands. However it appears that the Brits are least sociable when it comes to face-to-face contact at work. In Belgium, 80.2 percent of IT professionals chat with colleagues during work hours. This figure is 72.1 percent in The Netherlands, but only 59 percent in the UK.

Underworked or underpaid?

When asked why they used work time for personal tasks, 17.4 percent of people in the UK, 18.1 percent in Belgium and 14.3 percent in The Netherlands said it was because they didn't have enough work to do. However, almost one in ten (8.8 percent) of IT professionals in the UK reasoned that it was because were underpaid for the amount of work they did. This fell to 7.2 percent in Belgium and 4.8 percent in The Netherlands.

Blocking internet access

79.3 percent of people in the UK, 88 percent of people in Belgium and 92.5 percent of people in The Netherlands spend up to 30 minutes per day surfing the internet for personal reasons. But despite this, at least two thirds (60.4 percent in the UK, 71.1 percent in Belgium and 66 percent in The Netherlands) agreed that companies should be able to manage or block access to certain websites.


Despite media coverage about how many working hours are lost to Facebook, using Hotmail and Yahoo ranked more highly in The IT Job Board's survey, suggesting that employees spend more time on personal email: In the UK 9.9 percent of respondents use Facebook, while a total of 39.9 percent use Hotmail and Yahoo. These figures are 4.8 percent and 49.4 percent respectively in Belgium and 2.7 percent and 40.1 percent in The Netherlands.

Men vs. women

In the UK, 17 percent of male IT professionals spent more than one hour on non-work related tasks, compared to only 10 percent of females. (Figures not available for Belgium or The Netherlands).

Teresa Sperti, marketing manager at The IT Job Board, comments: "We make a point of regularly surveying our candidate database about issues currently affecting both the IT arena as well as the workplace in general. However, this is the first time that we have compared results across the various regions in which The IT Job Board operates. The results highlight some interesting similarities as well as differences between the activities and opinions of IT professionals in different countries."

The research was carried out in August 2008. It received 497 responses in the UK, 83 in Belgium and 147 in the Netherlands.

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