New study shows that emergency department workers are on Facebook quite a bit. They spend an average of 4.3 minutes per hour on Facebook during day hours, which is just under an hour out of every 12 hour shift. However, during night shifts when the study hospital was busier, the staff spent an average of almost 20 minutes per hour — just on Facebook.
So are the results good news based on other studies showing that engaging in brief mindless tasks decrease worker fatigue and stress while increasing worker productivity and happiness? Or are the results bad news suggesting that patients aren’t getting full attention?
I also wonder about how the study determined active use of Facebook. Researchers set limits of 3 minutes for each interaction with Facebook, so someone checking their status for a few seconds would have been deemed to have spent 3 minutes on Facebook, as would someone who surfed Facebook for the entire shift. My guess based on my observation of computer use in my emergency departments is that the methods caused the times of use to be overestimated.
And the study also reminds us of another important point … when you’re on a work computer, what you’re doing is being watched.