The Middle East FT recently ran an article in their technology section on 'Five apps for unfocused minds'. It is claimed that websites most visited by British MP's (during work time) include Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, Amazon, eBay, Flickr and TripAdvisor. But apparently they are no different to the rest of us. We all 'cyberloaf'.

Some of these social media channels in fact may be accessed for work purposes. I tweet for the company, have had to buy work equipment from Amazon and eBay. However Lucy Kellaway of the FT reports that at a recent conference she heard the Heads of HR for two top investment banks complaining that data from staff computers show less than half their time in the office was spent on work. A study from Kansas State University backs this: the average US worker spends 60-80% of their time online at work doing things unrelated to their job.

But it’s not just HR Directors that should be worried how much time their staff are cyberloafing. David Ryan Polgar, US pundit and lawyer, feels we are getting 'mentally obese' by bingeing on junk information – making it harder for the brain to process information and operate effectively. Polgar also says it’s more difficult to combat than physical obesity as you can't look in the mirror and see the 'mental flab'. So it has been suggested we all need to go on a crash social media diet reducing the amount of junk information we consume. But before you go completely cold turkey on cyberloafing, tests have shown that 'in small quantities it perks you up'. So how do we learn to implement cyberloafing moderation? You guessed it, there are apps! There is Nanny for Google Chrome, Workrave, Focus Booster, Rescue Time and Remember the Milk.

Whilst companies spend time and money on attempting to monitor computer usage and implementing policies for acceptable internet behaviour, as HR well knows, its behaviours that need to change not just the policy. Researchers at Kansas State University believe that it is the individual’s attitude towards Internet browsing at work that needs to be investigated first in order to determine what they deem acceptable or unacceptable.

While policies may not change attitudes, it’s always best to be clear about where the company stands on these matters but better yet, having a busy and engaged workforce who understands the value they add to the organisation should reduce loafing of all types in the long run.

Angela Franks is a Director at Macmillan Davies and couldn't even manage to download Focus Booster to her computer.