The Atlantic had a funny article – well, funny to me, perhaps not to everyone – that Angry Birds, the game, is “costing” American businesses alone $1.5BN in lost wages and/or productivity per year, on average. The math is very entertaining, and makes some assumptions, which they themselves admit are assumptions. Either way, they come up with the rough $1.5BN lost wages figure.
Whether the assumptions are off by 33% up – and the real number is $1BN – or 50% down – and the real number is $2BN – or any other error, the problem here is not technical, i.e. how many minutes are spent, how many of those by Americans, and how many at work, but fundamental, i.e. does it really matter?
Smart American businesses long ago stopped measuring employees by hour, even those that get paid by the hour. Employees have a task. If the task gets done, it doesn’t matter if you watched NCAA, used Facebook or played Angry Birds, the job was done. If the job was not done, well, then, it doesn’t matter if you watched NCAA, used Facebook played Angry Birds, or actually worked, the job was not done.
Fundamentally, if you are monitoring your employees every hour or minute, in other words worrying about them playing Angry Birds, then you have an problem, not because of Angry Birds, but because you don’t know how to measure success, and thus how to achieve it.
Focus on getting the job done, whatever it takes; the rest follows.